Thing 4 for CPD23 is about current awareness and particularly about a few tools to help LIS workers keep up-to-date with the voluminous happenings from across the vast hinterland of the Web.
I already use Twitter! I’ve used Twitter since March 2010 and loved it since about April 2010. It’s become the cornerstone of my current awareness tools and indeed my web presence / personal brand (see Thing 3). It’s the main way I communicate with other people in The Profession and, along with my email, is one of the essential things to check whenever I get on the internet. I use the Twitter client Hootsuite which provides a decent layout showing the regular timeline, your @ mentions, and any lists that you may follow. In order to keep my list of followees down to a minimum, I group people into lists: new Twitter users can also follow these lists. There’s the annoyingly generic Library-and-Info-Pros which contains anyone working in a library and information job (for use of the word ‘pro’ in this context, see Thing 1); Library-and-Info-Pros-2 is a continuation of that list since Twitter lists can only contain 500 people; and there’s Met-in-Real-Life which is a substitute for my memory. Some essential tweeters to follow are: CILIPinfo, theREALwikiman, WordShore, PhilBradley, Girlinthe, ScrewyDecimal, ijclark, walkyouhome, and of course UKpling. There are also many more and the lists Annie_Bob (another essential followee) has put together are very useful.
I already use RSS! I use Google Reader to manage my subscriptions to blogs: instead of trawling all over the Web trying to remember my favourite blogs, Reader makes it possible to skim through the latest posts in a ten-minute break at work. You can see every item that I’ve ‘shared’ here: it’s usually library or technology related stuff or occasional comics about Batman. Reader also makes it possible to ‘follow’ me so you automatically pick up anything I share and I can see anything you share: some of the best stuff I read on Reader comes from the delightful Adrienne Cooper who is a prolific sharer.
Prior to Thing 4, I had never heard of nor used Pushnote. I used to use StumbleUpon which I think is a similar website recommendation engine but I had to turn off the toolbar since it became too great a temptation to press the Stumble button and zoom around the Web like I'd engaged the Infinite Improbability Drive. Pushnote uses star rankings and comments: people you know can rank websites and share them. I've never been a fan of arbitrary ranking systems - value is subjective and qualitative - but Tim Berners-Lee is a proponent of 'ranking the Web'. I'm having a go at using Pushnote and seeing what other tweeters and CPD23 people suggest. If it becomes as big a distraction as StumbleUpon became, it will have done its job.