Searching, social bookmarking and RSS

This week I ‘ave mostly been searching for information using various tools such as Twitter, Quora, SocialMention etc.. I have been looking for information about designing multimedia presentations and also for information on plagiarism and referencing. I am interested in the topic but especially so at the moment as I am preparing a presentation looking at reasons behind plagiarism and the best approaches to help students.

My first attempts at finding information were not very successful. Being used to the advanced search features of Google and the ability to limit and refine my searches using criteria such as filetype, domain etc.… the search features of tools like Twitter felt rather basic. Being able to search only through very recent items can also have obvious limitations. When searching for ‘multimedia presentation’, I came across a lot of Tweets from design companies advertising either a new product or web site and didn’t find much on how to do presentations. On the topic of plagiarism and referencing, I found quite a lot of tweets referring to the German defence minister who resigned over allegations of plagiarism and who has made the subject topical again. I also found a few tweets from students obviously struggling with referencing like this one “Harvard referencing takes up the majority of dissertation writing! Citing everything & making sure I don’t get done for plagiarism is hard.” Not what I was looking for, but a tweet I will use in my presentations as it illustrates one of the points I am trying to make.

I also tried Quora and was a bit unsettled when it asked to connect with Facebook as I am never sure what that involves. Once in, I can see how Quora could be a useful place to find information. I didn’t find much on how to design effective multimedia presentation but there were a number of topics on presentation which were of related interest. I could of course have posted a question. The way it works is clever – if I tag my question with relevant topics, all the people following that topic will see the question, and the more people follow a topic the more likely the question is to be answered. Whilst as the moment there are still a number of questions that are answered rather sketchily, Quora has got potential. It has got the feel of a ‘select club’ where one can get personalised service and be surrounded only by like minded people.

I didn’t get SocialMention it at first. I found the same post repeated over and over again on the first page, which was in fact the same article posted on different services. The strength of SocialMention lies in the menu on the side, which allows you to see on which platform your topic was mentioned most, the top keywords mentioned alongside the word you searched for, the top hashtag, as well as to whether the sentiment related to the keyword is positive, negative or neutral. It became clear that SocialMention is an ideal tool to monitor what is being said on a number of platforms about a particular topic or organisation. I tried to do a search for ‘dmu library’ and was amused to recognise my boss as one of the top users.

I have also set RSS feeds to blogs, diigo groups etc.. In order to avoid information overload, I am relatively strict about the number of RSS feeds I set up. Aaron Tay whose blog ‘musings about librarianship’ I follow has written a post about his strategy get the most (professionally) from the people and service he follows in his post. He has got it to a fine art where the people and topics he follows on the various channels give him the optimum chance of not missing anything whilst not being overwhelmed.

Shirky’s assertion ‘it’s not information overload. It’s filter failure’ (Shirky, 2010) is true to an extent, but striking the right balance takes a skilful operator. All the social media tools have different facets and their usefulness depends on the context, the type of information I am looking for, and also how I am looking for it. To use them to best effect, I need to make judgment calls on which tools to use and how to use them. And striking the right balance is not simply about finding what you are looking for but also finding the unexpected nugget that you come across whilst not really looking for it. I like this idea of ‘positioning yourself for serendipity‘ which involves taking a little risk and ‘looking to the edges of our interest area’. I feel that doing this course has pushed me to do this, to go outside my comfort zone, and in so doing I have come across ideas, articles which have been quite revealing and insightful.

BRITZ, M. (2010) You can position yourself for serendipity. Learning Zealot.Weblog [Online] 22nd December. Available from: [Accessed 05/03/11]

SHIRKY, C. (2010) Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky ( It’s Not Information Overload. It’s filter failure. [Online Video] Available from: [Accessed 05/03/11]

TAY, A. Where do you get your library news? Evaluating library channels. Musings about librarianship, Weblog [Online] 5th February. Available from: [Accessed 05/03/11]



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Searching, social bookmarking and RSS

  1. Hi Marie,

    Positioning yourself for serendipty gets a thumbs up from me 🙂

    Like the others i think you are finding that all these different tools have their strenghts and weaknesses and a lot will depend on what you are searching for. Twitter can return a lot of unrelated noise – probably best for specific info and good for looking for specific meaningful tags (i.e courses and conferences) and probably best for breaking news information.

    Glad you have clearly identified how social mention can be useful for reputation monitoring for companies and organisations and that the real value is in the listing on the menu on the left – I think that will help all of us explore that in a bit more detail.

    I have said to a few of the others, that i am glad they have seen value in Quora – I see it is a great way to get realiable up to date help and advice.

    Excellent link to the Aaron Tay blog thanks for that. He gives a good mention for facebook groups and this is where i think searchning in facebook can be useful, not so much for a direct immediate answer, but to position yourself serendiptously in a place brimming with those discussing and helping each other on a particular subject.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s