Sunday, 30 October 2016

Thing 5: Twitter

I have been using Twitter enthusiastically since April 2009, not only from my own account but in tweeting for the Haddon Library, the Cambridge Philharmonic Society and Global Justice Cambridge.  What has changed since I blogged about Twitter in my coursework for those earlier rounds of 23things in 2010 and 2011?

Advanced search: this facility had dropped off my account, perhaps because of some Twitter re-setting.  I've now reinstated it, though I think in a slightly different form that requires me to open Twitter and search proactively rather than expect updates delivered to my email.  But the amount of material this search seems likely to retrieve is as small as I found it in 2010.

Twitter ban at work: in March 2010, I imposed a rule on myself that I should avoid Twitter at work when anything remained in my email inbox. I haven't had Inbox Zero since 2011.  My rule therefore now amounts, for practical purposes, to a requirement that I should not use Twitter at work.  I've kept to this pretty rigorously, and Twitterfeed continues to post to the Haddon Twitter stream from our blog.  Additionally, now, acknowledgment of some of the books we receive as gifts is made using Facebook and Twitter as well as email.

And what about Twitter's potential benefits to research?  It will do for sharing research once published, or semi-published: you can tweet links to journal articles, conference presentations and blog posts.  Searching Twitter will give some idea of what kinds of opinion are doing the rounds.

I did a few searches just now, to support amateur curiosity not research.  I wanted to find out if the inventor(s) of the 1935 Notificator, often likened to Twitter, had lived to see or support later developments in communications technology.  I wanted to know if other people were as much troubled by the sight of misplaced solicitude as I am.  I wanted to know if pre-emptive criticism, which I think we should all avoid, was a thing that troubled others.  I'll spare you blow-by-blow accounts of the search strategies I used, but I can say that I got no answer to the Notificator one, that tweets incorporating the phrase "misplaced solicitude" had been written by me alone, and that pre-emptive criticism is a thing.  Further research needed.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Thing 4: Pulling in information

In my blog post from the 2010 round of 23things, Thing 2 was to add the RSS feed for the 23things blog to our iGoogle page.  A couple of weeks later, participant @Skiddie2 recommended Google Reader as the way to keep up with all the blogs that the participants in 23things were making.  My own blog post admitted that RSS generically was something "I've always found less use for than I've felt was expected" but that "perhaps I'll find it necessary in order to keep up with everybody's cam23 blogging."  In the event, I have continued to find little use for RSS feeds generally, but Google Reader was absolutely fit for the purpose of following the blogs that other participants in 23things were writing.

I was not as devastated as some by the demise of Google Reader in 2013.  I had used it mainly for following my fellow 23things participants, and after the second run of 23things in 2011 that purpose was no longer there.  Google Reader was thus presenting me with lots of posts that were of less relevance to me.

This time round, I have signed up for Feedly, Zetoc and Pocket.

Feedly is fulfilling the same role for me that Google Reader did in 2010 and 2011: enabling me to keep up with the blogs of everyone else following this 23 Research Things programme. I tried clicking on those blogs' 'Follow' buttons.  Having done that for all of them at the end of an evening, I was a mite peeved to find that I would now need to set up a Wordpress account for most of the clicks to work. I called it a day there. Thing 4's exposition of Feedly was welcome.

Zetoc (and its rival JournalTOCs, which makes more of open access) are things I have recommended to Haddon users since I heard of them, and the users have been grateful.  The searches I set up for myself, be it admitted, expired in 2012.  I've now set up a new one, to help me keep track of publications about open access.

Pocket -- well, I've set my account up using borrowed computers, and have therefore not added the Pocket button to any browsers.  That may come.  Meanwhile, the first resource I have pocketed is the Scottish composer Chris Hutchings' page Choirs against racism.

Will Pocket come to displace Bitly as my grabber of choice?  Bitly has become pretty entrenched over the last 6-7 years.  I might come to see one-click pocketing as quicker than the string of clicks needed in creating a bitlink -- or I might see the string of clicks as a valuable slowing down.  Such things do exist.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Thing 3: Managing your online identity

I discovered in 1998, via an online search (AltaVista in those days, rather than Google) that I shared my name with a Canadian musician and writer.  Googling my name alone tends to bring up material about him rather than me, but a search for Aidan Baker Cambridge drew material that I recognized very well from my own life. The online directory told me there were 21 Aidan Bakers in the UK.

A search of showed that two sites I use fairly regularly -- LinkedIn and Patreon -- had been compromised.  I have changed my password on both.

Thing 1: Introduction to '23 research things'; Thing 2: Getting your blog started

This blog of mine was begun in 2010, when I took part in the Cambridge librarians' 23 things programme.  So in using it for my coursework in the 2016 '23 research things' programme, I'm taking it back to its roots.

What do I hope to get out of participation in '23 research things'? Not a nostalgic wallow in the joys of the first time round.  Firstness can never be recreated, by definition.  Instead, my hopes are these:

  • to update my knowledge of things I tried in 2010 and didn't adopt
  • to get a fresh perspective and fuller understanding of things I've used, with greater or lesser enthusiasm, since 2010
  • to expand my knowledge of things I really ought to have adopted by now, and make myself more useful

In 2011, a second Cambridge series of  '23 things' was aimed mainly at people who'd not done such a thing before, but some extra posts were included for participants who were veterans of the 2010 round.  I confined myself to those extras.  Time will tell whether, in 2016, I follow the entire course, or blog only about those things that are new to me.

Blogging reflectively will be quite an exercise.  I managed it in 2010 and 2011.  But my most reflective writing since then has been in the log I keep for my MCLIP revalidation, and that is not public.

Wish me luck in this balancing exercise!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Street collection

This was my entry in the competition for the 2017 desk diary published by Rhyme and Reason, a fundraising arm of Rennie Grove Hospice Care.  The theme was 'Magic and mystery'.  My contribution is based, with minimal poetic licence, on an encounter my wife Clare had while collecting house-to-house for the charity Christian Aid.


The street's sunny side --
evens – housed one who opened
an odd-side door.
His reason for not giving
was his distrust of money.

His volunteer work
had ended when volunteers
fundraising called him.
"Data protection", I said.
He'd fit a children's story:

all those oddities, 
and he had a Gandalf beard.
Would you like to try?
Neither copyright nor -left
stops your riffs on an idea.

Money from the street
a magically large sum?
Something's redemption?
His peace with those volunteers?
I don't write for kids myself....

As in previous years, my poem won no prizes, but was among those published in the diary. £5 via this link.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

70 + 3

This was written in response to Radio 3's appeal to listeners for 3-line poems, to be read out on National Poetry Day in honour of the station's 70th anniversary.  I sent it to them via Twitter.  My poem wasn't read out, so far as I know, and the tweet has had a remarkably low number of. views.  However, the tweet amounted to publication, so the poem is now ineligible for entry in most competitions; it earns its place in this blog.  It's another recollection of my teenage mania for listening to foreign radio stations.

70 + 3

Learnt in my teens, the 1970s: 
short-wavers called good wishes 73s. 
At 70, 3, receive all mine of these.