Silly Sunday #52 Online Education Sites: and the Spam Goes on.

14 10 2012

On many occasions  (hereherehere and here [1-4), I have warned against top 50 and 100 lists made by online education sites, like  accreditedonlinecolleges.com, onlinecolleges.com.

They are no more than splogs and link bait scams. Thus please don’t give them credit by linking to their sites.

I have also mentioned that people affiliated with these sites sometimes offer to write guest posts. Or they ask me to place an infographic.

Apparently they don’t do a lot of research. The post don’t really fit the topic of this blog and the writers don’t seem aware of my critical posts in the pasts.

Nevertheless, the number of requests keeps on growing. Sometimes I get 4-5 a day. Really ridiculous…

They don’t seem discouraged by my lack of response.

The letters are usually quite impersonal (they just found a wordpress-tag for instance).

———————–

Hey ,

Re:  laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com/tag/medicine-20/

While doing research  for an online educational resource I write for, I ran across your blog and thought you may be interested in an idea for a post I have been thinking about.

The fate of schools in California is tied to the financial health of the state and because of years of economic downturn and recession, the state can no longer support the schools and the price of tuition is skyrocketing. This is making attending college considerably more difficult for many qualified applicants.

I would love to write about this for your blog. Let me know if you’re interested and I will send you a full outline.

Thanks!

———————-

Lately I’m also informed about dead links at my blog. How kind. Three guesses which link is offered instead…..

——————————-

Hi Laika Spoetnik,

I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren’t aware of it. The link on http://laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com/2009/06 which links to http://www.visi.com/juan/congress is no longer working. I’ve included a link to a useful page on Members of Congress that you could replace the broken link with if you’re interested in updating your website. Thanks for providing a great resource!

Link: http://www. onlinebachelordegreeprograms . com / resources / bachelor-of-arts-in-political-science-congress /
(spaces added)

Best,
Alexandra Sawyer

—————————-

p.s. ( as far as I know I never linked to visi com, and 2009/6 is not a single post, but many..)

References

  1. Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists! (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  2. Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists. ((laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  3. Even the Scientific American Blog Links to Spammy Online Education Affiliate Sites… (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  4. Health and Science Twitter & Blog Top 50 and 100 Lists. How to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff. (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)

 





Even the Scientific American Blog Links to Spammy Online Education Affiliate Sites…

28 05 2012

On numerous occasions [1,2,3] I have warned against top Twitter and Blog lists spread by education affiliate sites.
Sites like accreditedonlinecolleges.comonlinecolleges.com, onlinecollegesusa.org, onlinedegrees.com, mbaonline.com.

While some of the published Twitter Top 50 lists and Blog top 100 lists may be interesting as such (or may flatter you if you’re on it), the only intention of the makers is to lure you to their site and earn money through click-throughs.

Or as David Bradley from Sciencebase said it much more eloquently than I could:
(in a previous comment) 

“I get endless emails from people with these kinds of sites telling me I am on such and such a list…I even get different messages claiming to be from different people, but actually the same email address.They’re splogs and link bait scams almost always and unfortunately some people get suckered into linking to them, giving them credence and publicity. They’re a pain in the ‘arris.

These education sites do not only produce these “fantabulous” top 50 and 100 lists.
I also receive many requests for guest-authorships, and undoubtedly I’m not the only one.

Recently I also received a request from mbaonlinedegrees to post an infographic:

While searching for resources about the internet, I came across your site and noticed that you had posted the ‘State of the Internet’ video. I wanted to reach out as I have an infographic about the topic that I think would be a great fit for your site.”

But this mba.onlinedegrees infographic was a simple, yes even simplistic, summary of “a day at the internet”:

How many emails are sent, blog posts are made, how many people visit Facebook and how many updates are updated, and so forth and so on. Plus: Internet users spend 14.6 minutes viewing porn online: the average fap session is 12 minutes…
(How would they know?)

Anyway not the kind of information my readers are looking for. So I didn’t write a post with the embedding the code for the infographic.

Thus these online education affiliate sites produce top 50 and 100 lists, blogposts, guestposts and infographics and promote their use by actively approaching bloggers and people on Twitter.

I was surprised to find¹, however that even the high quality Scientific American science blog Observations (Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American) blindly linked to such a spammy infographic (just adding a short meaningless introduction) [4].

That is an easy way to increase the numbers of blog posts….

And according to an insider commenting to the article the actual information in the infographic is even simply wrong.

“These MBAs have a smaller brain than accountants. They don’t know the difference between asset, revenue and income”.

If such a high authority science blog does not know to separate the wheat from the chaff, does not recognize splogs as such, and does not even (at the very least) filter and track the information offered, …. than who can…. who will….?³

Sometimes I feel like a miniature version of Don Quixote…

————-

NOTES

1.  HATTIP:

Again, @Nutsci brought this to my attention:

2. In response to my post @AdamMerberg tweeted a link to a very interesting article in the Atlantic by Megan McArdle issuing a plea to bloggers to help stop this plague in its track. (i.e. saying:  The reservoir of this disease of erroneous infographics is internet marketers who don’t care whether the information in their graphics is right … just so long as you link it.). She even uses an infographic herself to deliver her message. Highly recommended!

3. This doesn’t mean that Scientific American doesn’t produce good blog posts or good scientific papers. Just the other day, I tweeted:

The referred article Scientific American puts a new meta-analysis of statins and an accompanying editorial in the Lancet in broader perspective. The meta-analysis suggests that healthy people over 50 should take cholesterol-lowering drugs as a preventative measure. Scientific American questions this by also addressing the background risks (low for most 50+ people), possible risks of statin use, cost-effectiveness and the issue of funding by pharmaceutical companies and other types of bias.

References

  1. Health and Science Twitter & Blog Top 50 and 100 Lists. How to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff. (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  2. Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists. (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  3. Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists! ((laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  4. What’s Smaller than Mark Zuckerberg? (blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/)




Health and Science Twitter & Blog Top 50 and 100 Lists. How to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff.

24 04 2012

Recently a Top 100 scientists-Twitter list got viral on Twitter. It was published at accreditedonlinecolleges.com/blog.*

Most people just tweeted “Top 100 Scientists on Twitter”, others were excited to be on the list, a few mentioned the lack of scientist X or discipline Y  in the top 100.

Two scientist noticed something peculiar about the list: @seanmcarroll noticed two fake (!) accounts under “physics” (as later explained these were: @NIMAARKANIHAMED and @Prof_S_Hawking). And @nutsci (having read two posts of mine about spam top 50 or 100 lists [12]) recognized this Twitter list as spam:

It is surprising how easy it (still) is for such spammy Top 50 or 100 Lists to get viral, whereas they only have been published to generate more traffic to the website and/or to earn revenue through click-throughs.

It makes me wonder why well-educated people like scientists and doctors swallow the bait. Don’t they recognize the spam? Do they feel flattered to be on the list, or do they take offence when they (or another person who “deserves” it) aren’t chosen? Or perhaps they just find the list useful and want to share it, without taking a close look?

To help you to recognize and avoid such spammy lists, here are some tips to separate the wheat from the chaff:

  1. Check WHO made the list. Is it from an expert in the field, someone you trust? (and/or someone you like to follow?)
  2. If you don’t know the author in person, check the site which publishes the list (often a “blog”):
    1. Beware if there is no (or little info in the) ABOUT-section.
    2. Beware if the site mainly (only) has these kind of lists or short -very general-blogposts (like 10 ways to….) except when the author is somebody like Darren Rowse aka @ProBlogger [3].
    3. Beware if it is a very general site producing a diversity of very specialised lists (who can be expert in all fields?)
    4. Beware if the website has any of the following (not mutually exclusive) characteristics:
      1. Web addresses like accreditedonlinecolleges.com, onlinecolleges.com, onlinecollegesusa.org,  onlinedegrees.com (watch out com sites anyway)
      2. Websites with a Quick-degree, nursing degree, technician school etc finder
      3. Prominent links at the homepage to Kaplan University, University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University etc
    5. Reputable sites less likely produce nonsense lists. See for instance this “Women in science blogging”-list published in the Guardian [4].
  3. When the site itself seems ok, check whether the names on the list seem trustworthy and worth a follow. Clearly, lists with fake accounts (other then lists with “top 50 fake accounts” ;)) aren’t worth the bother: apparently the creator didn’t make the effort to verify the accounts and/or hasn’t the capacity to understand the tweets/topic.
  4. Ideally the list should have added value. Meaning that it should be more than a summary of names and copy pasting of the bio or “about” section.
    For instance I have recently been put on a list of onlinecollegesusa.org [b], but the author had just copied the subtitle of my blog: …. a medical librarian and her blog explores the web 2.0 world as it relates to library science and beyond.
    However, sometimes, the added value may just be that the author is a highly recognized expert or opinion leader. For instance this Top Health & Medical Bloggers (& Their Twitter Names) List [5] by the well known health blogger Dean Giustini.
  5. In what way do these lists represent *top* Blogs or Twitter accounts? Are their blogs worth reading and/or their Twitter accounts worth following? A nobel price winner may be a top scientist, but may not necessarily be a good blogger and/or may not have interesting tweets. (personally I know various examples of uninteresting accounts of *celebrities* in health, science and politics)
  6. Beware if you are actively approached and kindly requested to spread the list to your audience. (for this is what they want).It goes like this (watch the impersonal tone):

    Your Blog is being featured!

    Hi There,

    I recently compiled a list of the best librarian blogs, and I wanted to let you know that you made the list! You can find your site linked here: [...]

    If you have any feedback please let me know, or if you think your audience would find any of this information useful, please feel free to share the link. We always appreciate a Facebook Like, a Google +1, a Stumble Upon or even a regular old link back, as we’re trying to increase our readership.

    Thanks again, and have a great day!

While some of the list may be worthwhile in itself, it is best NOT TO LINK TO DOUBTFUL LISTS, thus not  mention them on Twitter, not retweet the lists and not blog about it. For this is what they only want to achieve.

But what if you really find this list interesting?

Here are some tips to find alternatives to these spammy lists (often opposite to above-mentioned words of caution) 

  1. Find posts/lists produced by experts in the field and/or people you trust or like to follow. Their choice of blogs or twitter-accounts (albeit subjective and incomplete) will probably suit you the best. For isn’t this what it is all about?
  2. Especially useful are posts that give you more information about the people on the list. Like this top-10 librarian list by Phil Bradley [6] and the excellent “100+ women healthcare academics” compiled by @amcunningham and @trishgreenhalgh [7].
    Strikingly the reason to create the latter list was that a spammy list not recognized as such (“50 Medical School Professors You Should Be Following On Twitter”  [c])  seemed short on women….
  3. In case of Twitter-accounts:
    1. Check existing Twitter lists of people you find interesting to follow. You can follow the entire lists or just those people you find most interesting.
      Examples: I created a list with people from the EBM-cochrane people & sceptics [8]. Nutritional science grad student @Nutsci has a nutrition-health-science list [9]. The more followers, the more popular the list.
    2. Check interesting conversation partners of people you follow.
    3. Check accounts of people who are often retweeted in the field.
    4. Keep an eye on #FF (#FollowFriday) mentions, where people worth following are highlighted
    5. Check a topic on Listorious. For instance @hrana made a list of Twitter-doctors[10]. There are also scientists-lists (then again, check who made the list and who is on the list. Some health/nutrition lists are really bad if you’re interested in science and not junk)
    6. Worth mentioning are shared lists that are open for edit (so there are many contributors besides the curator). Lists [4] and [7] are examples of crowd sourced lists. Other examples are truly open-to-edit lists using public spreadsheets, like the Top Twitter Doctors[11], created by Dr Ves and  lists for science and bio(medical) journals [12], created by me.
  4. Finally, if you find the spam top 100 list truly helpful, and don’t know too many people in the field, just check out some of the names without linking to the list or spreading the word.

*For obvious reasons I will not hyperlink to these sites, but if you would like to check them, these are the links

[a] accreditedonlinecolleges.com/blog/2012/top-100-scientists-on-twitter

[b] onlinecollegesusa.org/librarian-resources-online

[c] thedegree360.onlinedegrees.com/50-must-follow-medical-school-professors-on-twitter

  1. Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists. (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  2. Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists! ((laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
  3. Google+ Tactics of the Blogging Pros (problogger.net)
  4. “Women in science blogging” by  ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/science)
  5. Top Health & Medical Bloggers (& Their Twitter Names) List (blog.openmedicine.ca)
  6. Top-10 librarian list by Phil Bradley (www.blogs.com/topten)
  7. 100+ women healthcare academics by Annemarie Cunningham/ Trisha Greenhalgh (wishfulthinkinginmedicaleducation.blogspot.com)
  8. Twitter-doctors by @hrana (listorious.com)
  9. EBM-cochrane people & sceptics (Twitter list by @laikas)
  10. Nutrition-health-science (Twitter list by @nutsci)
  11. Open for edit: Top Twitter Doctors arranged by specialty in alphabetical order (Google Spreadsheet by @drves)
  12. TWITTER BIOMEDICAL AND OTHER SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS & MAGAZINES (Google Spreadsheet by @laikas)






Friday Foolery #48 Brilliant Library Notices

13 01 2012

Today’s Friday Foolery post is handed on a silver platter by my Australian friend Mike Cadogan @sandnsurf from Life in the Fast Lane

Yes, aren’t these brilliant librarian notices from the Milwaukee Public Library?!

Note:

@Bitethedust, also from Australian rightly noticed: there’s no better place to stick @sandnsurf than in Friday foolery

Indeed at Life at the Fast Lane they have fun posts amidst the serious (mostly ER) topics. Want more Friday Fun than have a look at the Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five Posts.





#FollowFriday #FF @DrJenGunter: EBM Sex Health Expert Wielding the Lasso of Truth

19 08 2011

If you’re on Twitter you probably seen the #FF or #FollowFriday phenomenon. FollowFriday is a way to recommend people on Twitter to others. For at least 2 reasons: to acknowledge your favorite tweople and to make it easier for your followers to find new interesting people.

However, some #FollowFriday tweet-series are more like a weekly spam. Almost 2 years ago I blogged about the misuse of FF-recommendations and I gave some suggestions to do #FollowFriday the right way: not by sheer mentioning many people in numerous  tweets, but by recommending one or a few people a time, and explaining why this person is so awesome to follow.

Twitter Lists are also useful tools for recommending people (see post). You could construct lists of your favorite Twitter people for others to follow. I have created a general FollowFridays list, where I list all the people I have recommended in a #FF-tweet and/or post.

In this post I would like to take up the tradition of highlighting the #FF favs at my blog. .

This FollowFriday I recommend:  

Jennifer Gunter

Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter at Twitter), is a beautiful lady, but she shouldn’t be tackled without gloves, for she is a true defender of evidence-based medicine and wields the lasso of truth.

Her specialty is OB/GYN. She is a sex health expert. No surprise, many tweets are related to this topic, some very serious, some with a humorous undertone. And there can be just fun (re)tweets, like:

LOL -> “@BackpackingDad: New Word: Fungry. Full-hungry. “I just ate a ton of nachos, but hot damn am I fungry for those Buffalo wings!””

Dr Jen Gunter has a blog Dr. Jen Gunther (wielding the lasso of truth). 

Again we find the same spectrum of posts, mostly in the field of ob/gyn. You need not be an ob/gyn nor an EBM expert to enjoy them. Jen’s posts are written in plain language, suitable for anyone to understand (including patients).

Some titles:

In addition, There are also hilarious posts like “Cosmo’s sex position of the day proves they know nothing about good sex or women“,where she criticizes Cosmo for tweeting impossible sex positions (“If you’re over 40, I dare you to even GET into that position! “), which she thinks were created by one of the following:

A) a computer who has never had sex and is not programmed to understand how the female body bends.
B) a computer programmer who has never has sex and has no understanding of how the female body bends.
C) a Yogi master/Olympic athlete.

Sometimes the topic is blogging. Jen is a fierce proponent of medical blogging. She sees it as a way to “promote” yourself as a doctor, to learn from your readers and to “contribute credible content drowns out garbage medical information” (true) and as an ideal platform to deliver content to your patients and like-minded medical professionals. (great idea)

Read more at:

You can follow Jen at her Twitter-account (http://twitter.com/#!/DrJenGunter) and/or you can follow my lists. She is on:  ebm-cochrane-sceptics and the followfridays list.

Of course you can also take a subscription to her blog http://drjengunter.wordpress.com/

Related articles





Implementing Twitter in a Health Sciences Library

23 11 2010

Twitter describes itself as “a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” [2].

The “answers” are equally simple, because the tweet (that what is being “said”) must fit in 140 characters. The tweet does not only contain plain text, but can contain short-URL’s which link to webpages, figures and videos.

However, tweets have evolved to more than everyday experiences, and take the shape of shared links to interesting content on the web, conversations around hot topics (using hashtags (#), like #cochrane OR #ev2010 (conference evidence2010)), photos, videos, music, and real-time accounts of a newsworthy event [2]. Furthermore, Twitter is now also used by institutions and companies  for branding, marketing and costumer service. This also applies to libraries, with public libraries leading the way. Health science libraries started twittering  in 2009 and as of 2010 there were (only) 24 of them. In addition, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and most of the regional National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LMs) have a Twitter presence.  I follow @NLM_LHC and @NLM newsroom, for instance.

The NYU Health Sciences Libraries (NYUHSL) began using Twitter in June 2009. The team, consisting of the Director, the Emerging Technologies Librarian and the Web Services Librarian of the NYUHSL, described their experience with the implementation of Twitter in the latest Medical Reference Services Quarterly [1]

The main aim of their Twitter account was to disseminate topics similar to what was posted on their Web site: news about facilities, resources, handy tidbits, services offered, downtime, events, and staff, as well as breaking news.

What was their approach and what were their main experiences?

  • Claim your name, as soon as you vaguely consider using Twitter!
    In the case of  NYUHSL, their usual library acronym was already taken, so they took a similar name: @NYU_HSL (because of the 140-character limit, it is advisable to use as few characters as possible: this will leave more room when somebody replies to you).
  • They added the library logo as a profile picture and included a link to the library website plus a short “bio”.
  • First the team shared responsibility for posting on Twitter (by logging in into the NYU_HSL account and posting), but this posed coordination problems (like double postings, irregular postings). Therefore it was decided that team members would post according to a schedule. Furthermore there was a 2-week rotation. Any important news was tweeted promptly and interesting news from other Twitter users was occasionally retweeted .
  • Later CoTweet was used. This is a free tool, which -as its name suggests- allows multiple people to communicate through corporate Twitter accounts and stay in sync while doing so. One person is the account owner, who creates and maintains the account and gives other people access to it. The individual members can post to Twitter via the Co_tweet account.  CoTweet uses bit.ly as an URL-shortener, displays some (rudimentary) stats, allows scheduling and archiving of tweets and has some other slick features for corporate Twitter use. (See  this post at News CNET for a comparison between CoTweet and the better known Hootsuite)
  • What I most liked about the paper – besides the description of CoTweet – is the content flow diagram the authors used (adapted below). Posts from their library blog were automatically cross-posted via RSS to Twitter using Twitterfeed, whereas tweets were in their turn automatically posted on Facebook. To this end a Twitter Tab was added to the NYUHSL Facebook fan page. In addition it remained possible to post manually to the different social networking tools and to respond to followers or retweet messages of other users.

  • The team also had to find the right tone for Twitter: the style of tweets is more informal than the style of blog posts. They emphasize the importance of keeping the nuances of different social networking sites in mind when establishing an institutional presence.
  • They promoted Twitter in many ways:
    • A large Twitter mascot (blue bird) with the text: “Follow NYU_HSL on Twitter” was placed on the prominent Web’s site feature bar (see Fig. below). Unfortunately the twitter message only appears when you press “next”. Most users will not do this.
    • Creation of a small poster about Twitter.
    • A word of mouth campaign (in orientation presentations, and a tag line with Twitter account information in e-mail correspondence to students: according to Pew Internet [3] college graduates are among the biggest users of Twitter.
    • description and promotion of the Twitter account in the library’s e-mail newsletter and in blog posts.

And finally, we have to come up with the Key Question: was it all worth the effort?

At the time of writing the NYU-HSL had 66 followers, 27 of which were affiliated with the NYU (others being other libraries and librarians for instance). This is not a very big (target) audience, but I agree with the authors that the definition of success in social media is relative.  There were clear (subjective) benefits, like the low cost, ease of use, low effort to maintain the service on the one hand and the possibility to engage the audience, get user opinions and the opportunity to fix problems quickly on the other hand. Furthermore it’s presence on Twitter enhances the library’s reputation, as the library is making an effort to extend beyond its walls and confirms the role of librarians as technology leaders.

I also agree with the library’s basic principle “to give users as many options as possible to keep current with library news, resources, and services.” In this regard Twitter is a simple and effective method for promotion.

Thus health, medical and other libraries. I would say, if you are not twittering, give it a try and read the reviewed paper [1] for more tips. One of these tips is to connect with other libraries on Twitter as to learn from their experiences.

Credits:  @DrShock dm-ed (direct messaged) me on Twitter to alert me to the paper. Thanks Walter!

References (all assessed 2010-11-23)

  1. Cuddy, C., Graham, J., & Morton-Owens, E. (2010). Implementing Twitter in a Health Sciences Library Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 29 (4), 320-330 DOI: 10.1080/02763869.2010.518915
  2. Mashable http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/
  3. Lenhart, A., and Fox, S. ‘‘Twitter and Status Updating.’’ Report: Web 2.0, Social Networking. Pew Internet & American Life Project (February 12, 2009). Pew Internet: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Twitter-and-status-updating.aspx




When #Twitter Gets Creepy: People Who Force you to #Autofollow

18 05 2010

The third Twitter post in a row. But this one ain’t positive.

It is about privacy and spam.

Let’s first explain some basic things about Twitter.

People can follow you without your approval, at least if you  have a public account. You can follow them back if you like.

You just have to click on the follow button, that is all!
Everyone with a Twitter account can follow Barack Obama, for instance.

If Barack Obama followed me (whether I followed him or not), I could dm (direct message) him. He (or rather his staff) will receive a private message from me in his inbox.

Only people you follow, are able to dm you. This is to protect you against dm’s from whichever fool, Spam and Bots.

Barack Obama has many followers:  3,964,789. This is no surprise, because he is the president of the United States and everyone wants to know what he has to say.

Some people especially in the marketing sector find the numbers of followers that important that they will do anything to assure a lot of followers. They are even willing to pay for it.

There are several companies who specialize in it. Here is a list of paid Twitter services and their rates (from http://zacjohnson.com/buy-twitter-followers/).

  • BuyTwitterFriends.com = 10,000 Followers for $49.99 (0.0049 each)
  • TweetSourcer.com = 10,000 Followers for $60.00 (0.006 each)
  • UnlimitedTwitterFollowers.com = 10,000 Followers for $74.95 (0.0074 each)
  • Twitter1k.com = 5,000 Followers for $104.97 (0.0209 each)
  • SocialKik.com = 10,000 Followers for $150.00 (0.015 each)
  • USocial.net = 10,000 Followers for $447.30 (0.044 each)
  • Tweetcha.com = 10,000 Followers for $474.99 (0.047 each)
  • PurchaseTwitterFollowers.com = 5,000 Followers for $249.99 (0.049 each)

Buying followers….. that is rather shortsighted. My mother always used to say: “You can’t buy friends” (no real friends anyway).

What are followers worth who don’t follow you because you’re tweets are so interesting, or the stuff you sell is so good, etc… Do these followers really ‘follow’ you, in the sense that they follow what you say? And do they keep following you?

Moreover how are those followers recruited? Are they asked to do so? Are they offered money?

Well I don’t think so. There must be easier money strategies.

But how can you make people follow without asking?

Well there may be a sneaky way to force people to do so, without them being aware of it.

At least I think that has happened to me.

Saturday I got this dm:

I was alarmed.

  • First, somebody sends me a dm with a link to a marketing gift. I never click such links, you never know where they lead to. Even if it comes from someone I trust, it may be that his/her account has been hacked, so I have learned…
  • Second,  I’m not following this guy, at least not any longer….
  • Third I have blocked him before, after a similar dm.

The first time I got a dm of @jonathanvolk I thought I made the mistake by accidentally following him. But now (having blocked him before) I was sure that that wasn’t the case.

Out of curiosity (and to block him) I checked his Twitter account. Here I found several people complaining to him about the very same thing (the first tweet appeared later in response to my tweets).

@SorbetDigital appeared to have similar problems, not only with @jonathanvolk, but also with @JohnChow (see her post).

@JohnChow did ring a bell. Didn’t I block him in the past and didn’t I see his tweets rolling by lately?

I quickly checked Friend or Follow, a fantastic program, that shows you the people you follow and don’t follow you in return (following), your fans (who only follow you) and your friends (reciprocal relationship).

And who did I see there? John Chow, plus another guy that I presumably didn’t follow voluntarily: @MrGatherSuccess.
[The 2nd robot to the upper left also isn't kosher, as I found out today.]

Their Twitter pages ((below in blue and pink) have texts according to expectations.
Their follower/following ratio is absolutely skewed (557:1 and 1090:1 respectively)  so apparently their approach works in the sense that they got more followers, probably recruited in much the same way as they “recruited” me.

Strikingly@jonathanvolk and @Shoemoney are among the 100 people John Chow has chosen to follow. @Shoemoney (follower/-following ratio of 1355:1) and @Chow are also almost the only people followed by @MrGatherSuccess. By the way there is also “College Pages”, that links to Online Colleges, you know the site I warned you about on several occasions (Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists and “Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists!”)

Oh and “the robot” tweeted this today

Common features of these people:

  • they are  all Internet marketers,
  • All have let me follow them, (without following me back)
  • Some have sent me dm’s
  • they have many followers, some having skewed follower/following ratios
  • they “know” each other and may refer to each other

Strikingly @jonathanvolk has a post in which he explains how to get 25,000 Twitter followers with “Twitter Followers for Sale”. Juicy detail: Shoemoney gave him the tip. Vice versa at shoemoney.com, Shoemoney advocates to download the affiliate marketing guide of Jonathan.

Are these the guys behind the link services?

Not necessarily. In a recent post (Something Fishy Goin’ On Here… Paid Twitter Followers) @Jonathanvolk seems sincerely surprised about the pissed of reaction of his forced followers. Quote:

The other week I made a post about Paid twitter followers.

In the post I outline a few methods I have used to essentially pay for twitter followers and how much it has cost me per follower. With the methods like paying twittercounter.com, for example, you know exactly where your twitter followers are coming from.

Recently my follower count has been increasing steadily (and fairly rapidly) without me paying for any more services.

I’ve received a few @ messages before saying the person didn’t follow me and they were unsure how they did. I usually brushed it off as a… how can I put it lightly… computer illiterate person.(emphasis mine)

I think however that one of the services I used is using some sort of application access to automatically make users follow those who pay for the service.

The only problem is, I’m not sure which service is doing it… or if it’s just someone trying to get my account banned.

Since I have no way of know knowing… I have no way of stopping it.

Kinda crazy. Either way, be careful buying followers unless you know explicitly where the users are coming from!

——————

Kinda bullshitSince I have no way of know knowing… I have no way of stopping it.” …. Booh!

Let me give you one tip, guys (assuming that you are honest about this): go sit around the table and see which follower-robbering service you share, and do something about it!!

How people can force you to follow is a technical issue, I know little about. Jonathan refers to a follow bug in Twitter that they have found but should have been fixed.

Indeed @librarianbe told me the same in response to my “tweets for help”. He referred to an article in Gizmodo explaining how to force anyone to follow you on Twitter. Apparently the bug was not fixed (yet?), or there is another leak still to be discovered.

Twitter handled the p @  r  n-spam well. I hope it will find a solution to these problems too.

For such forced following and marketing dm’s are not only annoying, and an intrusion on our privacy, they are also bad for the credibility of a tool like Twitter.

So I’m going to block these guys (of course) and report them to Twitter using the ticket file @mrgunn advised me.

Similar problems? Here is the link to file a ticket with Twitter: http://help.twitter.com/requests/new

Meanwhile I advise you marketer guys to reassess the value of your followers. Do you only care about the size of the flock? Is it just the number of sheep? Do you want to impress by numbers? Or do you care about by whom you are being followed? And if what you’re tweeting does matter to them? Because only then you will have value as a twitterer and deserve to be followed. Otherwise, how can I put it lightly…you’re  a bit sheepish.

Added 18-05-2010

According to Twitter Status the bug that permitted a user to “force” other users to follow them was resolved & cleaned up May 10th. However Jonathan send the dm May 15th (although he might have forced me to follow him longer ago).

If you are still seeing folks you are following who you didn’t choose to follow, Twitter advises to use the block or unfollow tools as a remedy.

However, these buttons do not work effectively as @jonathanvolk and @johnchow keep resurrecting again after a total block.

@jonathanvolk reappeared in the Following Tab of Friend or Follow this very night, about 3 days after blocking (see comment).

Twitter, I hope you listen…





De Ivoren Toren van Thomése

28 10 2009

By way of exception I write a Dutch blog post to respond to an article in a Dutch Newspaper ridiculing speakers, writers, chatting and twittering people in a long-winded (3 pages) pompous, “literary” way, saying that they are terrorizing dictators. Although the writer, Thomése, might be right in some respects (all people  want to express their opinion, want to be heard, but nobody listens), his critique just hits the topic superficially. By doing so, the article adds to the already existing misunderstandings regarding social media. I finish my review by expressing the wish that Thomése mastered the art of Tweeting: be social, clear and comprehensive in 140 characters.

AMSTERDAM

Image by PjotrP via Flickr

nl vlag NL flagBij uitzondering een Nederlands stukje op dit blog. Ik schrijf meestal alleen over medische-wetenschappelijke zaken -in het Engels-, maar in dit geval kon ik het niet laten. Ik kreeg namelijk een aanval van acute, persisterende jeuk toen ik het stuk van Thomése in Het NRC Handelsblad van afgelopen weekend las. Een blog bericht van Jeroen Mirck (“P.F. Thomése is een kleine dictator”) kon mijn jeuk slechts enigzins verlichten.

Het stuk van Thomése in de Opinie & Debat bijlage, heeft als kop: Sprekers, schrijvers, bellers, sms’ers, chatteraars, twitteraars: allemaal kleine dictators. Eerst vallen je ogen op chatteraars en twitteraars (oh het is weer zo’n trendy anti-Twitter story op zijn Volkskrants [1]), maar dan zie je ‘sprekers, schrijvers en bellers’ staan en je vraagt je af: “wie blijft er over”?

Het vervelende van dit stuk is dat het dermate ‘literair’ (en quasi-intelligent [1]) is dat je eerst twee-en-een-halve krantenpagina door proza heen moet worstelen voordat er uberhaupt iets over deze groep “Sprekers, schrijvers, bellers, sms’ers, chatteraars, twitteraars” gezegd wordt.

Thomése wijdt ettelijke kolommen aan de introductie, een klassiek verhaal van Sartre (Erostrate uit le Mur), wat kennelijk nodig is om later zijn “kritiek in beeldspraak” te vervatten. Dit -op zich prachtige verhaal [2]- komt erop neer dat de hoofdpersoon, Paul Hilbert, gewoon is van bovenaf (de zesde etage) “neer te kijken” op mensen als waren het mieren. Hierdoor abstraheert hij mensen, ze ontmenselijken. In gedachten doodt hij willekeurige mensen -ja iedereen zou wel eens bepaalde mensen neer willen knallen, inclusief Thomése-. Wanneer Hilbert dit daadwerkelijk doet daalt hij (ook letterlijk) af naar een lager niveau en verliest hij daarbij zijn uitzonderingpositie. Hij wordt mier onder de mieren en wordt vanwege zijn daad opgejaagd tot aan het nederige toilet.

Thomése ziet in elke hedendaagse multimediale burger een Paul Hilbert, die met een killersblik op zijn eigen zesde verdieping “de gebeurtenissen op de voet volgt, zappend en surfend, alles en iedereen verwijderend uit zijn bewustzijn.”

“Er zijn te veel sprekers, te veel schrijvers, te veel bellers, sms’ers, chatters, twitteraars, allemaal kleine dictators, en allemaal willen ze laten weten – wat eigenlijk? Dat ze bestaan, om te beginnen. Hallo met mij even en dan komt het. Te veel mensen laten ongevraagd weten wat ze doen, wat ze willen en zullen (….) Maar waar zijn de lezers, de kijkers, de luisteraars? Wie moet dat allemaal aanhoren, aanschouwen, ondergaan? Zonder luisteraars kan er ook geen onderscheid meer worden gemaakt, is alles even belangrijk geworden. Er is niemand die nog tegenspreekt.”

De voorbeelden die Thomése geeft lijken vooral quotes uit discussielijsten of tweets. Het is een lukrake verzameling van uitspraken als:

“Ik mag hem wel die Scheringa”.
“Ik vind het een glibber”
Einde discussie.

Nietzeggend, inderdaad. Maar om dit nou een terroristisch-dictatoriale uitspraak te noemen die -in het openbaar gangbaar is geworden… pfff.

Een mening over iets hebben en in het openbaar ventileren is iets van alle tijden. De kruidenier van weleer ventileerde ook ongevraagd zijn mening over de heren politici, de economie of anders wel het weer. En iedere klant had ook weer zijn mening. Dat veel mensen niet de kunst verstaan te luisteren is ook niet uniek voor deze tijd.

Aan de andere kant zijn tijden zijn inderdaad veranderd: het is jachtiger, vluchtiger, consumptiever en platter geworden. Maar dat komt niet persé dóór het gebruik van multimedia.

De vergelijking van het multimediale plebs met de terroristische dictator die van 6 hoog alles oplegt loopt eigenlijk mank. Dictator ben je alleen als je mensen tot luisteren kunt dwingen en als anderen daar dus niet aan kunnen ontkomen. Luidruchtige mobiele gesprekken in de tram en stalkende schrijvers zijn uitzonderingen die deze regel bevestigen. Al zijn bellen en praten toch tamelijk pre-21ste eeuw.

Reacties op krantenartikelen, berichten, lijsten en blogs zijn wellicht vaak ontzettend eenzijdig en van een hoog wat-ben-ik-toch-origineel-en-leuk gehalte, maar het mooie is dat je het niet hoeft te lezen. Als multimediale burger (zender en ontvanger) ben je geheel vrij hierin.

En dat geldt zeker voor een nieuwe tool als Twitter. Zoals ik in een recente workshop aangaf: “Twitter is wat je er zelf van maakt.”

Doorzoek je Twitter real life op “Scheringa” of “H1N1″ dan zie je een woud aan allemaal losstaande meningen en uitspraken, meestal erg flauw of gewoon onzin. Ik doorzoek Twitter vrijwel nooit op te algemene termen en zeker niet op “trending topics”.

Veel mensen komen, net als Thomese niet verder dan deze verrekijker-visie op Twitter. Sommigen dalen even af, twitteren wat en zijn dan enorm teleurgesteld: niemand reageert. Wat ze niet begrijpen is dat Twitter een SOCIAAL MEDIUM is. Je moet een netwerk opbouwen van twitteraars die jij  interessant vindt en je moet zelf ook interessant genoeg zijn voor anderen om je te volgen. Althans als je zelf ook gehoord wilt worden.

Twitter kent nauwelijks hierarchie, er zijn geen dictators, dat werkt niet. Om beurten is iedereen schrijver en iedereen publiek, maar zo dat er een wisselwerking is. Ideaal gesproken, niet iedereen verstaat die kunst. [3]

Degene die ik volg zijn mijn menselijk filter voor ruis. Twittert iemand van de mensen die ik volg over ‘Scheringa’ of ‘H1N1′, dan is dat in de meeste gevallen waar, interessant of grappig.

Ik ontken niet dat er niet-luisterende leuteraars zijn. De kunst is om mensen te vinden die je wel boeien. Op dezelfde wijze als dat je vrienden maakt: het moet klikken. Het is allemaal eigen keus, zeker in de nieuwe (sociale) media.

Wat ik mis in Thomése’s stuk is de nuance, het is typisch de blik van iemand op de Eiffeltoren die naar beneden kijkt en enkel mieren ontwaart. Van bovenaf lijkt dat een hopeloos gewirwar en is iedereen eender.

In zijn stuk haalt Thomése Herostratus aan, de provocateur uit de klassieke oudheid die dacht: “ik kan misschien geen tempel bouwen, maar ik kan er wel een in brand steken”. Ik kan niet nalaten een vergelijking te trekken met Thomése, die wel in een ivoren toren woont en uitkijkt over de massa, die sociale media als Twitter niet doorgondt noch beheerst, maar het wel weet af te branden. Helaas verstaat hij niet de kunst dat op zijn Twitters te doen. In 140 leestekens….

  1. Bron: http://www.jeroenmirck.nl/2009/10/pf-thomese-is-een-kleine-dictator/
  2. Begin jaren 70 behoorden Simone de Beauvoir en Sartre tot mijn favoriete schrijvers.
  3. Het is voor mij mogelijk wel wat makkelijker omdat mijn aanwezigheid op Twitter vooral werkgerelateerd is.
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This week I will blog from…..

10 10 2009

35167809 singapore colloquiumPicture taken by Chris Mavergames http://twitpic.com/kxrnl

Chris and I will facilitate a web 2.0 workshop for the Cochrane (see here, for all workshops see here).
The entire program can be viewed at the Cochrane Colloquium site.

Chris Mavergames, Web Operations Manager and Information Architect of the Cochrane Collaboration will also give a plenary presentation entitled:
Cochrane for the Twitter generation:
inserting ourselves into the ‘conversation
‘”.

The session has the promising title: The Cochrane Library – brave new world?

Here is the introductory text of the session:

The Cochrane Collaboration is not unique in facing a considerable challenge to the way it packages and disseminates healthcare information. The proliferation of communication platforms and social networking sites provides opportunities to reach new audiences, but how far can or should the Collaboration go in embracing these new media? In this session we hear from speakers who are at the heart of the discussions about The Cochrane Library’s future direction, including the Library’s Editor in Chief. We finish the session with reflections on the week’s discussions with respect to the Strategic Review (…)

Request (for the workshop, not the plenary session):
If you ‘re on Twitter, could you please tell the participants of the (small) web 2.0 workshop  your opinion on the following, using the hashtag #CC20.
*

  1. Why Web 2.0 is useful? (or not)
  2. Why we need Cochrane 2.0? (or not)

An example of such an answer (from @Berci):

#CC20 Web 2.0 opens up the world and eases communication. Cochrane 2.0 is needed bc such an important database should have a modern platform

If you don’t have Twitter you can add your comment here and I will post it for you (if you leave a name).

Thanks for all who have contributed so far.

—–

*this is only for our small-scaled workshop, I propose to use #CC2009 for the conference itself.

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Twitter’s #FollowFriday #FF – Over the Top. Literally

11 09 2009

Last Update: Sunday (2009-13-09), text added in blue

The Twittermeme #FollowFriday (or #FF) was started January this year by Micah Baldwin (@micah) with one single Tweet: I am starting Follow Fridays. Every Friday, suggest a person to follow, and everyone follow him/her. Today its @fancyjeffrey & @w1redone.”

10-9-2009 23-33-49 followfriday

A friend of Micah suggested to add the hashtag (a community driven tag) #FollowFriday to the tweet, some other friends helped to spread the word and a tweetmeme was born: now, all over the world #FollowFriday is a Twitter “trending topic” on Fridays (see Mashable)

The concept of FollowFriday is that every Friday you recommend a few people to your Twitter-followers. For at least 2 reasons:

  1. it is a way to acknowledge those particular people
  2. it is a very efficient way for your followers to find other interesting Twitter people

Ideally (at least IMHO) the #FollowFriday tweets (message of 140 characters or less):

  • should consist of:
    • the hashtag #FollowFriday,  #FF or both
    • 1-3 names of people you would like to recommend (the tweet should not start with their names, because otherwise only the recommend person himself and your mutual friends will be able to read the tweet, -this doesn’t make much sense)
    • a short explanation why you recommend him/her.
  • are tweeted on Fridays
  • are more or less unique (just one or two tweets, not dozens in a row)
  • should only recommend the best people in a particular field

Two examples, one by me and one by @jpardopardo (it was my one and only #FF recommendation in two weeks)

  1. Laika (Jacqueline)
    laikas My #followfriday goes to @aarontay , a techy librarian from Singapore. Has many tips as a tweeter and a blogger http://is.gd/2ssJ3 #ff #fb
  2. Jordi Pardo Pardo
    jpardopardo #followfriday Cochrane tweets you can not miss: @cochranecollab @radagabriel @MESOttawa @laikas @TSC_OH @DavidTovey

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In these examples the hashtag #FollowFriday is followed by one or several names with the reason one should follow the person.

The general format thus would be:

#followfriday #FF @username Reason why you should follow him/her, area of interest, Their website URL, if applicable

If my followers see that I consider @aarontay a great techy librarian having a lot of good tips, they might find it worth while 2 check him by clicking @aarontay or the link to his blog http://is.gd/2ssJ3. If they go to his Twitter homepage and  find his tweets awesome, than they might decide to start following him.

If you’re interested in the Cochrane Collaboration, then you might try the tweople that are recommended by @jpardopardo. It takes somewhat more time, however, to check all 6 people, but it may yield some interesting new people to follow.

Thus, in principle #FollowFriday is a great tool to find other interesting people, BUT…

…suppose you’re following someone that tweets all this (x 3-5 times) every Friday?

29-8-2009 15-19-18 #followfriday

I don’t follow this person (name not shown), but if I did, these #FollowFridays are really meaningless. I don’t know why I should follow the “suggested” people, nor do I want to try all the links. Furthermore if someone produces 10 or more of these kinds of tweets (those people exist!), my twitter account gets clogged with useless clutter. Its worse than an inbox full with spam.

But some people are even worse. They not only tweet a huge amount of meaningless FollowFridays, they also retweet (RT) the FollowFridays in which they are included to let the world know how popular they are (I can’t think of any other reason than that they want to show off).

29-8-2009 15-22-28 ff dr sg

And it is counterproductive….

Instead of following the recommended people I will unfollow those kind of FollowFridaying people (at the end).

I’m not a CEO or a marketing woman. I don’t want 10000 people to follow me, and even less so do I want to follow 10.000 people back.

I only desire to follow interesting people with a high signal to noise ratio of tweets in a manageable way.

I always thought that I was exceptional in thinking like this, but last two weeks several of my Twitter friends started to talk about the downside of FollowFridays. And when I Googled, o dear, the whole Twitterverse seemed to have written about it. (glad I Googled after I had almost finished this post)

  1. Ves Dimov, M.D.
    DrVes I don’t participate in “Follow Friday” (any day is good to recommend somebody) but @Dr_Steve_Ponder offers great diabetes info as Dr/patient
  2. David Bradley
    sciencebase I think it’s time to abandon #FollowFriday as a twitter meme, unless we can make it more useful and effective.
  3. novo|seek
    novoseek agree / RT @sciencebase: I think it’s time to abandon #FollowFriday as a twitter meme, unless we can make it more useful and effective.
  4. Laika (Jacqueline)
    laikas RT @sciencebase: think it’s time 2 abandon #FollowFriday as a twitter meme, unless we can make it more useful/effective. wouldn’t agree more
  5. Walter van den Broek
    DrShock RT @laikas: RT @sciencebase: think it’s time 2 abandon #FollowFriday what about #rec?

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Oh and here is another one today (13-09)
pfanderson @laikas @wichor Yeah, I really hate it on Follow Friday when folks fill up a whole page nothing but people’s names. from web in reply to laikas

SO WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS? (blue added after publication)

ALTERNATIVES

  1. Abandon FollowFriday
  2. Just recommend anyone (special) whenever you like (DrVes , DrShock),
  3. @MarilynMann: “What I do find useful is when someone joins twitter and people tweet “please welcome ___ to twitter,” which can be done any day of the week”
  4. @sciencebase: “RT is the much better way to show fellow twitters that you care. If you’re RT’ing their tweets then you’re demonstrating that what they’re saying bears repeating, so recommending them indirectly…”
  5. @philbaumann ‘s tip mentioned by @problogger in the same post Mark tweets from people you want to recommend on FollowFriday by favoriting them and tweet the URL of your favorites page (i.e., see the URL of Philbaumann’s Favorites page).
  6. Share Groups of Twitter Users in One Click with TweepML (Mashable) – here are some lists from which you can choose: http://tweepml.org/follow/, including a top librarianlist. Of course there are already many lists and directories around, but the good thing is that you can personalize your own top groups and that another person can add anyone from that list by simple clicking.
  7. Use #MrTweet Instead of #FollowFriday, send your weekly recommendation there, get an overview of the most awesome people according to your friends and get recommended yourselves (see bkmacdaddy). [added 2009-09-02]

    BETTER USE

  8. Use FollowFriday sparingly and wisely, i.e. as described above. In fact the founder of FollowFriday proposes similar rules.
  9. Mention a series of people on Twitter and tell why they’re great people on your blog -there is more room there (sucomments)
  10. @problogger: (on his blog Twitip.com)Spread your tweets throughout the day via scheduling services like Tweetlater (currently rebranding themselves as SocialOomph, Futuretweet or Hootsuite” (while taking care of the twitteretiquette, see above).
  11. Matt Stratton proposes to use the hashtag fussy-follow-friday, to discrimate good tweets from bad ones.
  12. Maija Haavisto, again on Twitip.com: “ask others for recommendations (such as “female sports bloggers” ..), either as a normal tweet or by posing a question to someone. They reply with names of Twitter users – preceding the initial @ with a period or something else, if they want others to see their recommendations. All tweets should be tagged with #ff or #followfriday, of course.

    EXTRA TIP TO KEEP YOUR Followfriday-recommendations

  13. Perform a Twittersearch with (your @twittername  OR your twittername) (#followfriday OR #ff OR followfriday) and take an RSS-feed to that search. You see your recommendations and who has recommended you.
    Thus my search looks like
    (laikas OR @laikas)(#followfriday OR #ff OR followfriday) (and you can also add “friday”)

To add fussy-follow-friday to the follow friday tweet [10] seems unnecessarily complex to me. Asking others for recommendations [11] is a good suggestion, but I don’t see me applying that approach each Friday. I would (and already do) use this approach on selected occasions. Why not just use FollowFriday as it was meant to be used: recommend one or two people once a week [3]. I still like the idea. Contrary to marketing people and strategists, I’m already happy and honored when I’m FollowFridayed: for me it doesn’t have to lead to tons of followers (for others this is the main goal). In my case it has lead to some new, great twitterfriends. Quality is more important to me than quantity. I’ve  “met” some new interesting people, who I might not have met otherwise.

Option 2, 3 and 4 also seem very sensible to me. I share the mild) critique of @problogger regarding 5: “Not every tweet I Favorite comes from someone I necessarily want to recommend and favorites are not necessarily tweets planned on sharing. But people not using favorites often might find this an excellent option.”

6 seems more of an adjunct, nice tool, but less personal.

What do you think?

(Solutions may be added to the above list)

suggest a list of people they followed whom they believed others would also enjoy

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Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists.

1 09 2009

Just the other week I wrote a post “Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists!”

In short this post describes that (some) Top 100 etc lists may not be as useful or innocent as they seem. Some of these lists are created by real scam-sites, who’s only goal is to make money via click-troughs and to get as much traffic as possible, via YOU (and me)!

The scam appears in many guises.

  1. As submissions for a  blog carnival, i.e. 100-weight-loss-tips-tricks.
  2. An offer of a health care student who asks you to do a guest post (you only have to link back to his/her site).
  3. In the form of a mail, dropping you a quick line that you’re included in a top 100 list, possibly worth mentioning to your audience.
  4. You just noticed a top 100 list with excellent sites, worth mentioning on Twitter or Friendfeed, so your followers become aware of the sites and pass the message.

The first two are pretty obvious scam. The latter two are more difficult to see through.

Why do I write another post? Because it happened again, today. And I think I should bring the message home more clearly.

Below you see what happens. Berci has found a list with 50 great tools to “Double check your Doctor”. He tweets the link to what he considers a great resource list, and in no time the message and the link are tweeted several times. Some people also post a link on their blog.

  1. Bertalan Meskó
    Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  2. Liza Sisler
    lizasisler Good resource list RT @Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  3. Bart Collet
    bart RT @Berci: 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  4. Guy Therrien
    gtherrien RT @bart: 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor – Online Nursing Classes http://ff.im/-7q9pK
  5. zorgbeheer
    zorgbeheer DELI 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor – Online Nursing Classes: You probably know that Googling yo.. http://bit.ly/n1NXc
  6. ekettell
    ekettell RT@Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  7. Robert L. Oakes
    RobertLOakes RT @Berci: 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA (via @ahier)
  8. dr. Horváth Tamás
    ENTHouse RT @Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  9. Sagar Satapathy
    sagar13d 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor. URL: http://tinyurl.com/mlmf47

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Finally this will result in more traffic to the website onlinenursingclasses and a higher rank in Google.

Indeed 12 hours after Berci’s tweet, searching for “50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor” (between quotes) gives just 21 hits (similar hits not shown), many of which can be traced back to the twitter posts.
All but one are positive: the last hit is my warning, which was only received by ahier and TheSofa. Ahier deleted his original positive tweet from Twitter.

Also worrying is that the spam site was bookmarked by various Stumble upon visitors. And that the one person that made the Stumble upon review also “liked” similar sites, like Online Classes and Learn Gasms. So probably a whole team takes care that the site is socially bookmarked. When several people “like” a site others may be attracted to the site as well. That is the principle of social bookmarking sites. And you and I do the rest….

1-9-2009 0-55-13 Google results 50 great tools

Why is this bad? You can read more in my previous post or in the post “Affiliate sites” at Ellie <3 Libraries.
In addition, Shamsha brought another post to my attention, again from a librarian:

Top 100 Librarian Friendfeeds to follow at cheapie online degrees com at Tame the Web.com.

which refers to

http://www.librarian.net/stax/2970/why-i-dont-accept-guest-posts-from-spammers-or-link-to-them/

Tame the web gives some very good advice

I sometimes see other libloggers linking to sites like these and I have a word of advice: don’t. When we link to low-content sites from our high-content sites, we are telling Google and everyone that we think that the site we are linking to is in some way authoritative, even if we’re saying they’re dirty scammers. We’re helping their page rank and we’re slowly, infinitesimally almost, decreasing the value of Google and polluting the Internet pool in which we frequently swim. Don’t link to spammers.

How do you know that you can’t trust that particular site?

Well here are some features I’ve noticed (for the spam sites in “my”field)

  • All the sites that publicized such list were educational, mostly directed at nurses or other health practitioners. Some even end at org. Examples:
    • nursingschools.net
    • associatedegree.org
    • rncentral.com
    • Learn-gasm
    • onlineclasses.org
    • onlinenursepractitionerschools.com
    • searchenginecollege.com
    • collegedegree.com
    • ultrasoundtechnicianschools.org
    • phlebotomytechnicianschools.com
    • MiracleFruitPlus.com.
  • All sites have a Quick-degree, nursing degree, technician school etc finder. Mostly it is the only information at the ABOUT-section (?!)
  • The home page often contains prominent links (clicks) to Kaplan University, University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University, and/or others.
  • People behind the site often approach you actively (below are some examples) to gain your interest.
  • It is unclear how the lists are made and who is behind it.
  • There is no real information, only lists and degree finders.

So spread the word! Be careful with those list. DON’T LINK TO THEM! And if you see a possible interesting list, first CHECK the site: WHO, WHY, WHAT, WHERE AND WHEN. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!

31-8-2009 21-23-07 online nursing

The degree finder at the about page

1-9-2009 1-32-11 about 100 list

Prominent links to some Universities

1-9-2009 2-30-23 universities online nursing

An example of a letter drawing your attention to a list

1-9-2009 2-56-49 hi we just posted an articleAn example of a letter asking to write a guest post.

31-8-2009 23-56-03 guest post

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Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists!

26 08 2009

During the weekend I added some links to sites referring to this blog in the sidebar. There was the 3rd place in the Medgadget competition for the Best New Medical Weblog in 2008,  a nice critique by Danielle Worster (the Health Informaticist) in the “Library + Information Gazette”, the inclusion in the Dutch Twitterguide and a place in the Top 50 Health 2.0 Blogs list of RNCentral (”the place to learn about nursing online”) in 2008.

And recently I was included in another ranking lists, to which I was alerted by a personal email of Amber, saying:

Hi,

We just posted an article, “100 Useful Websites for Medical Librarians” (http://http://www.nursingschools.net/blog/2009/100-useful-websites-for-medical-librarians/). I thought I’d drop a quick line and let you know in case you thought it was something you’re audience would be interested in reading. Thanks!

Both the RNCentral and the nursingschools.net lists are subjective ranking list of useful sites on nurses-oriented webpages. And although subjective, they contain numerous excellent and trustworthy sites. I was honored and pleased that I was included in those lists together with the Krafty Librarian, David Rothman, the MLA, the NIH, and NLM.

In all fairness, there are also many list (in fact far more such lists) that do not include me. I remember that there was a list of 100 top librarians with quite a number of Australians and no @laikas. I found one post at Lucacept – intercepting the web saying:

BestCollegesonline.com has posted a list of the Top 100 Librarian Tweeters and I’m honoured to say I appear on the list. In fact, there are five Australian Librarians who made it on the list. The other four were heyjudeonline, neerav, bookjewel, gonty.

Unfortunately, they didn’t include Kathryn Greenhill, an amazing librarian who is currently in the US and putting out some very helpful tweets from conferences she is attending while there. She is sirexkathryn on Twitter.

Other great Teacher-Librarians to follow include …..

Check out the list and see who else is there you might like to follow. I know that my professional learning has benefited from the generous nature of Librarians who are active on Twitter.

This shows that people are pretty serious about those lists and sensitive to who is included or not.
There were some mild protests from a few people on Twitter, i.e. from Shamsha here (RT means you repost a tweet, so @shamsha retweets my retweet of @philbradley‘s tweet of the bestcollegesonline list) and from @BiteTheDust (here) regarding @laikas’  omission from the list. However, I’m sure there were many others studying the top 25, 50 or 100 lists with a frown. But wouldn’t any list look different?

25-8-2009 13-32-32 shamsha

25-8-2009 17-40-09 bitethedust

Apparently it concerns the same bestcollegesonline.com-list as referred to by Lucacept.

Back in April there was also a Top 50 Librarian Blogs- list published at the getdegrees.com. This provoked a blogpost from the UK-blog Cultural Heritage ” Top 50 (insert topic of choice here). Quote:

The colleague who alerted me to this noted that all of the blogs listed were published by librarians in the US and wondered whether we should be doing our own list of top UK librarian blogs. Further, she wondered, if we did, who would we be putting at the top and why?

Who (are on the list)? and Why? Those are good questions!

This reminded me of a recent remark of @aarontay on Twitter, He sighed something like. “Now I’ve seen 3 of those list. Who makes those lists anyway?” That is a 3rd relevant question.

I couldn’t find @aarontay’s original Tweet (Booh!, these are not archived), but here is a message I found on FriendFeed:

25-8-2009 14-31-57 aarontay 3 lists

Friendfeed not only keeps the messages but also shows the comments. Apparently Ellie (from Ellie <3 Libraries) found evidence that such sites were dodgy as @aarontay had suggested. Some quotes from her post:

Both this site (http://associatedegree.org) and Learn-gasm – who has the top 100 blogs post going around currently (www. bachelorsdegreeonline. com) are sites designed solely to earn revenue through click-throughs.

The “bachelorsdegreeonline” at the end is a tracking mechanism to allow collegedegrees.com to reward sites that send them visitors.
While all the schools linked to are legitimate schools, both are misleading sites since they only link to schools that offer an affiliate kickback. They also only link to forms to enter your contact information at third party sites, not to the actual school websites.

While the content of the top 100 blogs and 25 predictions lists is completely non-objectionable, the fact that librarians are taking these sites seriously is.

What the author is doing is trying to increase his traffic and SEO. He likely does some minimal investigation to determine what sites would have the biggest impact – so in that sense, the lists are probably somewhat representational of influential sites – like I said, the content isn’t the objectional part. He creates the page with the links to the 100 top whatever, then emails all of them to let them know they’re on the list. Every one of them that posts that they’ve made a top 100 list and links back to him increases his site’s page ranking. The more important your site is, the more it helps him, both in search engine algorithm terms (being linked to by someplace important counts for more than being linked to from less popular sites) and because it brings him more incoming traffic. Which also increases his site’s page ranking (and the chance of someone clicking through in a way that gets him paid).

…But, this particular little batch of sites that is currently targeting higher education – they are ones that are ostensibly trying to help people find colleges, choose degrees, etc., when in fact they are only linking to forms to enter your contact information for a small subset of online only colleges that offer affiliate linking programs.

…on the surface they seem related to education, some have .org addresses, but when we start looking at them critically they fail every test easily – no about page (or at least nothing informative on it), unauthored posts,  little to no original content. One of the main components of being a librarian is teaching people to think critically about information, so when we fail to do so ourselves I find it incredibly frustrating.

O.k. that hit the mark.

A good look at the sites that linked to my blog showed they were essentially the same as those mentioned by @aarontay and Ellie. With links to the same schools.

Vanity or naivety, I don’t know. I didn’t pay much attention, but I still (wanted to) quot(ed) them and didn’t doubt their intentions. Nor did I question Clinical Reader’s intentions at first (see previous post).
In some respect I really dislike to be so suspicious. But apparently you have to.
So, I hope you learned from this as well. Please be careful. Don’t link to such sites and/or remove the links from your blog.

Vanity is the quicksand of reason George Sand quotes (French Romantic writer, 1804-1876)


Top 50 Health 2.0 Blogs list
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Clinical Reader, a Fancy New Aggregator – But All is not Gold that Glitters

3 08 2009

Before I went on vacation (July 14th) I started a blogpost about Clinical Reader, a new aggregator. However, a Twitter riot -started July 13th- drastically changed my view of Clinical reader and I decided to await further developments till my return. Alas, things have only worsened.

The adapted blogpost consists of two parts: a neutral look from the outside (original draft) and a look behind the scenes: how social media and web 2.0 tools should not be used.

I submit this post to the Grand Rounds, not only to inform you about a potential fancy aggregator, but also to warn potential users to “look before you leap”.

Please note that the figures shown in the first part are all screendumps taken at July 13th or earlier and might no longer exist in this form (note added after publication, as all sentences in this color)

——————————————————————————————————

Earlier this year (see post) I compared PeRSSonalized Medicine, a new aggregator, created by Bertalan Meskó to various other aggregators: Amedeo, MedWorm and Libworm, Netvibes, I-Google and RSS-Readers, (i.e.) Google Reader.

Most of these readers (can) track medical journals or news, some (can) also track blog posts and web 2.0 tools (like PeRSSonalized Medicine and MedWorm).  PeRSSonalized Medicine excels by the input from the readers (doctors, health 2.0 people and patients), Amadeo and especially Medworm have large lists of journals to choose from. All these aggregators can be personalized. Of course Netvibes, I-Google and RSS-Readers give the utmost freedom in compiling list feeds, but one first has to learn how to use them. And although it is not difficult, it means a hurdle to many.

June 29th, a new aggregator was launched, Clinical Reader, specifically designed for busy clinicians to reduce the information overload.

1. From the Mission Statement:

We are building a user-friendly platform that will enable medical professionals around the world the ability to easily interact with the latest developments in their respective specialties. Our aim is to bring academic content together and create a semantic digital medical library.

10-7-2009 9-16-36 Clinical Reader node——————

2. What it is and what it isn’t.

Clinical Reader is website that syndicates content via RSS/Atom (aggregator), enabling busy clinicians to easily browse top medical journals, health news sources and multimedia without having a clue what RSS is about (and for free). The same is true for other aggregators discussed previously: PeRSSonalized Medicine, Amedeo and MedWorm. In fact the presentation of the feeds looks pretty similar (see Fig. for comparison of Clinical Reader and Perssonalized Medicine). Disadvantage of these kind of aggregators is that only the first items are shown, and as these often are editorials, comments, correspondence and news, the physician still has to follow the link to the journal to see most of the (true) articles.

3-8-2009 0-51-08 clinical reader vs pss medicine

In contrast to the aforementioned  services, the “RSS-feeds” of Clinical Reader cannot be personalized (a personal selection of journals). There is however the possibility to select an entire clinical section, each with its own selection of specialist journals. And according to Rashada Henry, associate editor of ClinicalReader.com (commenting on Bertalan Mesko’s post), open or closed personal pages may become an option in due course.

10-7-2009 10-13-21 Clinical reader sections

3. What’s new?

As said, the idea isn’t new, Clinical Reader is an old concept in a new guise. But what a guise. It is a glimmering site with prints of the main journals on the home page. It has the appearance of an i-pod touch: you can scroll the sources with your mouse and click the ones you would like to read. Wow, I was immediately taken by it.

10-7-2009 9-21-33 Clinical Reader

4. Coverage

The emphasis is on medical journals and news. But there is also a page for with a selection of 14 Medical Blogs. There are also plans to include top Twitter doctors worth following (spreadsheet prepared by Ves Dimov, MD), for nurses, open access … and top medical librarians blogs (worth following for doctors). Following Ves’ example I made a spreadsheet of useful medical librarian blogs, open to editing here

The original spreadsheet looked like this:

10-7-2009 0-30-55 excel top medlib

The preview of the medical librarian page (how it would look when incorporated) looked like this.

10-7-2009 9-05-43

The address was: http://medical-librarians.clinicalreader.com/phase3.php - but when I came back the link was dead?!….

The other side of the coin

Apart from the fact that the site was not as revolutionary as suggested, there were some basic things about the site that were of some concern. The “About us” section contains no names, picture, verifiable info, etc. It only says: “Clinical Reader was brought to life in 2009 by a junior doctor and a small group of forward thinking young tech programmers spread across London and Toronto.” Furthermore I wondered whether NLM would ever give stars to commercial tools like this. I wondered, but no more than that….

1. Starry ethics fail
Nikki Dettmar, a medical librarian at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) did take a closer look. In a blogpost Starry ethics fail she says that:

it is with concern that I’ve heard about some of my colleagues promoting and collaborating with the newly launched company, Clinical Reader.

Why? (red scrawl emphasis mine)

This above-the-page-fold graphic is intentional (not accidental, this is clear marketing intent to lend quick visual credibility to the organization) and currently displayed everywhere (homepage, sections pages, multimedia page, the newsletter, etc.) throughout the resource.

It is bogus as far as the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is concerned since the U.S. Government doesn’t endorse or grant 5 stars to anything. The NLM Copyright Information page offers more elaboration, ….

Later Ben Goldacre (MD, columnist for the Guardian) concludes in a Twitter discussion regarding the endorsement by the Guardian (source http://eagledawg.blogspot.com/2009/07/gratitude.html).

bengoldacre @ClinicalReader so youre supported by the guardian in the sense that you went to an event they organised and some people gave you sm advice? 2 weeks, 5 days ago from TweetDeck in reply to ClinicalReader

2. Infringement of copyright

Nikki was also the first to notice the use of two copyrighted, unattributed images:

Clinical Reader also currently uses two copyrighted images on their Partners (specific original source, copyright notice at bottom) and Advertising pages (from somewhere on Signalnoise). A ‘credit’ link to a source doesn’t honor an image copyright. (….) Commercial organizations can well afford to purchase or design their own graphics.

In a later post, Nikki also showed that the multimedia wrongfully used SpringerImages, that must not be (…) used for commercial purpose  including the placement or upload of the Licensed Content on a commercial entity’s internet website.

Peter Murray twittered to @allan marks, co-founder of Clinical Reader:

@allan_marks It seems your Clinical Reader radiology image (http://bit.ly/3YbLa) was swiped from a Flickr user http://bit.ly/3XXKGm

In addition, the logo that was used by Clinical Reader to indicate the untangling of a maze of information (that I copied in my original draft above), was taken without permission from the website of FeedStitch where it was created by their designer Owen Shifflett. (see discussion).

You kind of wonder what wasn’t copied.

3-8-2009 5-06-36 feed stitch

3. Threat to Nikki (Eagledawg) via Twitter

For me the most astonishing event was the immature “response” of Clinical Reader to Nikki after publishing her first post with appropriate critique. It was in the from of a real threat.

Twitter response

From several sources I now  understand Clinical Reader also reacted kind of offensive to other librarians, including @DataG and lukelibrarian. One was warned “I will contact Twitter and have your accounts shut down. Stick with the real deal – EBSCO, Ovid .. etc” or something to that effect. @DataG (Murray) also found a version of a Clinical Reader newsletter, still catched by the Google search engine entitled: “wave goodbye to the library journal shelf”, which was later withdrawn. (source: Murray on Twitter as @DataGhis blog dltj.org (6)) and

17269831

I immediately responded (while packing) to the initial threat and so did dozens of other medical librarians. Mostly on Twitter and Friendfeed, but also via their blogs (see below and Nikki’s blog). Some also retracted their initial support (i.e. see this mail of  Connie Schardt, who like many of us -including me- was “temporarily dazzled by the flashy display and ease of use of the product.”)

4. Change of Twitter-accounts, deleting tweets

Quite confusingly Twitter-accounts have been changed and deleted. First initials appeared after tweets to designate the person who tweeted for @clinicalreader, which I thought was a good thing. I followed @clinicalreader, but now the account was discontinued. The archive was kept at @clinical_tweets, which vanished as well. Now there is @clinical_reader, that states that tweeting has not really begun?? The only Clinical Reader account I know of is that of allan_marks. ALL previous tweets have been deleted. What remains are dm’s (direct messages) and tweets that are preserved by services like QuoteURL.
(for a detailed account of the switching of the original Twitter account’s name ‘at the speed of light’ see this blogpost of pegasuslibrarian)

It is all very confusing. Why would one do that other to conceal what has been said?

One salient detail. At their website Clinicalreader still refers to @clinicalreader, which is taken over by someone taking the opportunity to register the account when it moved to @clinical_tweets

3-8-2009 5-50-41 @clinicalreader

5. More lying

There are several examples of making up retweets (quoting someone), see here (@ClinicalReader “I didn’t RT anything from y’all. Y’all aren’t very good at the whole social media thing, huh?”-David Rothman) and here (@ClinicalReader – “Would you mind not attributing fabricated quotes to me please? I never said this: http://tr.im/sCFb #ClinicalCheater“) (source: 6)

6. Denial

The behaviors of the ones in charge are so immature. It’s really unbelievable. You always have to take critique seriously, and if you choose to use social media and make a mistake, than apologize openly (see the blogpost of Peter Murray below, 7).

Look at this discussion with Ben Goldacre (thanks Nikki). It is really ridiculous, QuoteURL: one, two, three, and four. Clinical Reader is playing dumb.

I might not have been exhaustive, but I know enough for the moment. Also in my eyes, Clinical Reader has lost all its credibility.

In contrast to the massive protest of Medical Librarians only one doctor (Ben Goldacre) took a stand against Clinical Reader (see here).

Clinical Reader = zero stars: non-existent endorsements, threaten blogger, nasty and silly, avoid! http://tr.im/sdJA

The others remained erily silent. Why?

——————————

More extensive reading:

  1. http://eagledawg.blogspot.com/2009/07/clinical-reader-starry-ethics-fail.html
  2. http://eagledawg.blogspot.com/2009/07/gratitude.html
  3. http://stevelawson.name/seealso/archives/2009/07/clinical_reader_from_zero_to_negative_sixty_with_one_bogus_threat.html
  4. http://healthinformaticist.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/clinical-reader-malicious-or-just-stupid/
  5. http://davidrothman.net/2009/07/14/watch-nikki-pound-clinical-reader/
  6. http://dltj.org/article/clinical-reader-background/ (in depth coverage by @dataG or Peter Murray)
  7. http://dltj.org/article/learning-from-clinical-reader/ (excellent advice)
  8. http://pegasuslibrarian.blogspot.com/2009/07/best-bad-marketing-ever.html
  9. http://pegasuslibrarian.blogspot.com/2009/07/clinical-reader-train-wreck-just-keeps.html (detailed coverage of deleting and changing accounts) (8-9 added after comment Steve Lawson)
  10. Friendfeed discussions: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22clinical+reader%22

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What I learned in 2008 (about Web 2.0)

2 02 2009

Grand Round is a weekly collection of the best writing in the medical blogosphere. The coming Grand Rounds (February 3rd, 2009), hosted by Not Totally Rad has the following theme:

February is the first anniversary of my blog. Therefore, the loose theme for submissions will be anniversary-related: write about something cool or important that you’ve learned in the past year.

Well, I have learned a lot in the past year. The most profound personal experience was the death of my father. I experienced how it is to loose a beloved, but I also learned that death and grieve can affect people so deeply that it changes their behavior. I now understand this behavior (anger, mental confusion) is a manifestation of deep grief, which is transient and natural. Luckily our body and mind appear very resilient.

I will restrict to another thing I’ve learned: Web 2.0.
Just like the “Samurai Radiologist” I started a blog in February 2008. Thus Laika’s MedLibLog also celebrates its first anniversary.

Useful Web 2.0 tools

This blog was started as a tool to communicate thoughts, new found skills and ideas with other (>150) SPOETNIK course members, Spoetnik being a Learning 2.0 project to encourage library staff to experiment and learn about the new and emerging Internet technologies.

During the library 2.0 course I learned the basics of blogging, chatting, RSS, Podcasts, Wiki’s and social bookmarking. Each week another item was addressed. This learning program had a direct and positive impact. For instance, I could inform my clients how to create a RSS-feed for PubMed searches. By taking RSS-feeds/email alerts to interesting blogs, wiki’s and journals I kept better informed.

Hard to imagine (now) that I hardly new anything about web 2.0 one year ago.

Web 2.0 is not just a set of tools.

In the beginning I considered blogging largely as a selfish activity. It also appeared a lonely activity. As long as we discussed a course assignment there always was an interaction with at least a handful of other participants. But as soon as the program came to an end, I started to write more and more about medicine, EBM and medical library related matter, which didn’t appeal to most of the other course members. I wrote about things that interested me, but the writing would be absolutely useless if nobody would read it. Thus, how to get an audience?

There were I few things I had to learn and there were a few people who gave me a push in the right direction .

  • Wowter, who gave feedback to my posts right from the start and who encouraged me to continue blogging, posted a list with 17 tips for beginning bloggers (in Dutch) of how to increase visibility and findability of your blog. I became aware that ‘linking’ to others is what is making the web 2.0 world interconnected.
  • Second Dymphie, a Dutch Medical Librarian, encouraged me to start twittering. It took quite a while before I grasped the value of twitter as a networking tool. Twitter is not meant to say “what you do”, but it is a way to share information of any kind. Before you can share it, you first have to find interesting tweeple (people on twitter) and it did take a while before they followed me back (partly because my first tweets weren’t that interesting). Thus I had to learn by trial and error how to become a prolific twitterer.
  • Third I read a very interesting blogpost on “I’m not a geek” of Hutch Carpenter called Becoming a web 2.0 jedi, showing a simple but very accurate chart of the ever deeper levels of involvement one can have with Web 2.0 apps and the Web 2.0 ethos, as Hutch calls them. “Down are the lower levels, those of passive involvement, level 2 is giving up little pieces of yourself, while level 3 is a much bigger sharing experience. Share your own life, share your knowledge, share the stuff you find interesting. A big leap for a lot of us used to being more private. May the force be with you.”
    Seeing his post I realized that my journey had been quite different (figure below, made in September 2008). During the Spoetnik course emphasis was given to the tools themselves not to the ways you should use and share them and contribute to others. We skipped the reading of blogs and wiki’s, the lurking on twitter, but started with chatting, RSS and blogging. Although Web 2.0 tools are the basis, Web 2.0 is more an attitude than the usage of tools, it is about sharing information and thoughts.Or as Dean Giustini says it: It is about people.

The Ecosphere of Twitter and blogs.

I also experienced that all web 2.0 tools are not stand-alone tools, but can reinforce each other. This is for instance true for RSS, bookmarking tools , blogs, but also twitter (a microblogging service). A recent post of Sandnsurf (Mike Cadogan) at Life in the fast Lane uses a brilliant ecosystem metaphore to describe the twitter-blogging relationship. He describes the blogging ecosphere, where twitter decomposes information from journal articles and long blog posts into readily digestible information (nutrients and humus). See Figure from his post below (but read his post here for the whole story). Just like the Jedi chart this diagram illustrate exactly what web 2.0 is about.

Lessons to be learned

I have learned a lot. Am I now a real web 2.0 Jedi?
I’m not sure. In the ecology-model my blog is a young tree, surrounded by many others. But some ecologic dangers are luring.

  • The relative success of my blog results in “an abundance of light which results in a pressure to keep producing enough good quality posts”.
  • I’ve subscribed to so many RSS-feeds I seldomly read them.
  • I have so many twitter-followers (app. 300) that I can’t keep up with all of them as much as I would like to.
  • I read so many things, but haven’t got the time to work them out (or I simply forget).
  • I find it difficult to separate chaff from wheat. Many blogposts and web 2.0 information are not very accurate and superficial. Furthermore people often echo a subject without careful checking or without adding value.

Or in the words of sandnsurf: the death of a blog can ensue due to excessive exposure and Twittaholism. I hope It will not go in that direction, but I have to figure out a way to coop with the overwhelming amount of information and find a balance. That will be part of my (web 2.0) learning process in 2009.

One other thing:

I forgot to mention one very important experience. During my web 2.0 journey I virtually met many interesting, kind and helpful people from all over the world, from US, UK, Eastern Europe to India and Australia. Closer to home I also ‘met’ many very nice Dutch and Belgian people. I never liked the idea of intentional networking, but in web 2.0 the networks arise spontaneously. In a very natural and gradual way I became a member of a large health and library community and that feels good.

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