Researching Usability

Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

As mentioned in a previous blog, a review of how libraries are currently engaging with Web 2.0 was proposed as part of the ongoing research for Workpackage 2. This is not currently top priority for the project which means the blogs will be published over a period of time. However, this first part of the review introduces the data gathering method and some of the current theory of attitudes towards Twitter.

MinXuan Lee  wrote about the 5 Stages of Twitter Acceptance in her side-show, ‘How Twitter Changed My Life’. She effectively describes the range of behaviours typically displayed by people to represent their experience of Twitter. Each stage, Denial, Presence, Dumping, Conversing, and Microblogging, map attitudes towards Twitter before using it, through to its use for ‘true microblogging’.  Users can often identify with these stages at some point during their experience. Rightly or wrongly, some users may only aspire to ‘dumping’ and not have the desire to ‘converse’ or write a microblog. This review hopes to find out what stage of acceptance Twitter libraries are currently at. Furthermore, the findings will suggest which libraries are more successful on Twitter and the reasons behind it. This will provide other libraries with an idea on how to get the best from Twitter and ensure that it meets their needs.

Information was gathered on a random sample of libraries with existing Twitter accounts. The accounts were predominantly provided through the Libraries and Web 2.0 Wiki and CILIP’s Twitter Libraries List. Thirty libraries were selected which had their own dedicated Twitter accounts. Any accounts which served a wider audience such as a council were not included. Data was gathered on each library using between 22nd and 26th March 2010. Using this tool in addition to Twitter it was possible to gathering the following information:

  • Number of followers
  • Number following
  • Number of lists user’s have created
  • Number of tweets to date
  • Does the library retweet content created by others?
  • Does the library reply to tweets?
  • What Twitter clients does the library use to create tweets (in order of use)?
  • Date joined Twitter (month/year)
  • Does the library have a Facebook page?
  • Does the library have a Flikr page?
  • Does the library have any other social media accounts, if so what?
  • Does the library have their own blog or news feed with comment facility?

The initial data was gathered and placed on the UX2 wiki page for everyone to access.

A number of questions arose while conducting the research which will be discussed in future blog posts. More questions will hopefully be added as they arise:

  • Do libraries advertise their Twitter account (and other social media pages) elsewhere e.g on the library website?
  • If libraries have few followers, is there a reason for this? If so what?
  • What are the most popular Twitter clients used among libraries?
  • Is the level of engagement among libraries related to the type of twitter client they use?
  • To what extent do libraries ‘Converse’ using Twitter?
  • Which level of ‘Twitter Acceptance’ are most libraries aligned to?
  • What should libraries do if they want to engage more with people on Twitter?

Some initial findings are that many libraries are using Twitter mainly as a broadcast medium and less as a microblogging medium. Also that a high number of libraries are still using to communicate and not 3rd party client managers.

Overview of Twitter Use in Libraries

For those not involved in Higher and Further Education, JISC provides a service called JISCMail which facilitates knowledge sharing within the UK using mailing list based services.  One of these mailing lists, Web 2.0, is for anyone interested in Web 2.0 and its use in libraries. This month there has been an ongoing and interesting discussion (via the public library mailing list) on the evaluation of Web 2.0 services in libraries. This is something which is relevant to our project and in particular Workpackage 2: to undertake usability inspection and contemporary UX techniques research. Out of this discussion is seemed appropriate to examine how libraries are currently engaging with Web 2.0 and the impact it is having on users.

Something which Phil Bradley said in his response to the discussion stood out:

Measurement and evaluation has to be linked more to the activity than anything else

Quite often we concentrate on the technology or platform such as Twitter or Facebook, when often it’s the experience that should be considered first. Often there are multiple tools available to do the same job. In addition, tools are increasingly working together to ‘mash-up’ technology into a single service for end users. User’s are more interested in obtaining information to fulfill their needs or complete specific tasks than the technology being used.

I am hoping to write a series of blogs on this subject providing a snapshot picture of Web2.0 use in libraries. This will help to identify trends as well as the more innovative things being done which other libraries might be able to learn from. It wont be exhaustive but will hopefully provide a grounding for the project’s development work while also being useful to those working in libraries.

I have included the list of resources which were provided to the mailing list during the discussion. Thank you to everyone who contributed, the information will provide a valuable starting point for the overview. If you know of other resources please feel free to post them here.

Edinburgh Coffee Morning Quiz of the Year

This morning Edinburgh’s techy collective lined up to take part in the annual social media quiz as organised by Mike Coulter. As a regular at the weekly coffee mornings, I was excited to take part this year and test my knowledge. As it turned out I have a lot to learn, especially in knowing the meaning of acronyms like ASCii, JPG and USB, recognising company headquarters, famous tech faces or knowing the Google Protocol for rss feeds. The winner will be announced later today but I doubt our team are anywhere in the running. As they say, its the taking part that counts! Below is an image taken by Brendan MacNeill of me dutifully writing our answers down. Thanks to Mike for organising such a fun event for us geeks.
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