The price of competition

Nittany Valley Half Marathon

Nittany Valley Half Marathon, 2010

This is the kind of post I should probably write as a note on Facebook rather than a blog post – but, as mentioned in my last post, Facebook notes lack organization. So, even though this isn’t about libraries, I have this blog and this post doesn’t fit anywhere else, so here it is.

I write a monthly column about running for my local newspaper, so I think and write a good bit about the sport, but I don’t know that I have time or energy for yet another blog. I used to co-write a running blog for the paper, but when they switched blogging platforms, our old posts got erased and we never started up a new blog.

I originally wrote the following as a letter to the editor of Running Times, but I’m not very prompt about reading my magazines. By the time I had read the article and drafted a letter, the next issue was already in my mailbox.

The no-frills races Pete Magill is nostalgic for (“The Price of Competition,” Running Times, November/December 2012) are still here. Last weekend, I ran the Nittany Valley Half Marathon in State College, PA. It has a measured 13.1-mile course with mile markers and four water stops. The race director’s brief speech as 700 runners toed a line in a field was something along the lines of, “Run that way and watch for cars.” Chip timing ensured accurate times. For all this plus a t-shirt, I paid $25. If Magill is worried about losing a non-refundable fee, you can even register the morning of the race, although you might not get a t-shirt. The race is small, but it has attracted some very good runners. In 2011, local runners Luke Watson and Rebecca Donaghue used it as part of their preparation for the Olympic Trials marathon. The race quietly donates proceeds to a local charity.

There are plenty of other races like this out there. If you want to run with thousands of other people in a big city, expect a spectacle. If you just want to toe a line and see how fast you can run, check your local running club’s race calendar. It’s a lot more fun than running by yourself with your Garmin.

Facebook killed the blogosphere?

I don’t blog here as much as I used to. Part of it is just life and work taking up a lot of my time, and part of it is the energy that goes to the other blogs I contribute to.

Another part of it, though, is the other outlets I now have access to.

A post by Aaron Stanton about using Facebook as a personal blog got me thinking about this. If I just want to share a link without lengthy commentary, I can post it on Twitter or Facebook. (A good portion of my Facebook posts are public, so feel free to subscribe – or friend me if you know me.) If I want to start a discussion, I increasingly find LinkedIn groups or Facebook better places to do it than this blog. I use these outlets to share things I think are interesting, or to refine my thoughts on a topic.

I also don’t read blogs as much as I used to. I find links on Twitter and Facebook, and I follow discussions on LinkedIn. When I do read blogs, I’m more likely to follow a link to a post from Twitter or Facebook than from my feed reader.

That said, and despite the title of this post, I don’t think blogging is dead. It has changed significantly, though. Back when I started blogging (in 2003), if you wanted to publish something online, blogging was the way to go. My blog was primarily professional, but a lot of personal and silly things got posted there as well, because there was nowhere else to post them. Now there’s no reason to write a whole blog post just to share a photo of my dog. Overall, I think my blogging has improved. It’s more focused and thoughtful.

Goodbye RSS?

I’ve noticed that I’m using RSS feeds less and less often lately. Sure, I still have hundreds of feeds in Google Reader, but I’ve gone from checking them daily to weekly to I can’t remember when I last checked them. It’s not just because I’m busier. I’m getting a lot of the information I used to get via RSS from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I used to look for the bright orange RSS icon to follow blogs, but now I look first for the little Twitter bird or the Facebook F. I’m just starting a new blog project (more on that soon), and I suppose I will need to create Facebook and Twitter accounts for it.

It seems I’m not alone – and this change is not without consequences, according to Ken Varnum at RSS4Lib. We’re moving from an open standard to mediated discovery. And it’s not just that people aren’t using RSS. It’s becoming more and more difficult for the consumer to find.

Ironically, I did find Ken’s post using my RSS feed reader.

How do you follow blogs?

The Facebook tip I learned at SLA

One of the most useful things I learned at SLA this year came not from one of the many expert speakers but from a casual conversation with a colleague.

I was frustrated because I couldn’t find a way to comment on posts from a page I’m an admin for as myself. I finally found the solution and thought I’d share it.

Use Facebook as SLA Social Science DivisionNo matter how much I clicked on the “Use Facebook as SLA Social Science Division” and “Use Facebook as Tara” links, whenever I liked or commented on a Social Science Division post, it came up as a like or comment from the Social Science Division – making it look like the division was having a conversation with itself. I had resigned myself to the fact that I could no longer comment as myself once I became an admin. (At least until the next time Facebook changes its interface…)

I had complained about this “feature” to several people, when Morgan Grimes pointed out to me that there is a way to toggle between posting as the page and posting as myself.

For each page you are an admin for, you need to adjust the settings so that you don’t comment as the page by default.

Edit PageFirst, go to the page, and click on the “Edit Page” button in the upper right.

Your SettingsNext, click on “Your Settings” in the menu on the left.

Then you can uncheck the box that says “Always post and comment on your page as…”

Now the links to toggle between “Use Facebook as SLA Social Science Division” and “Use Facebook as Tara” actually work!

Never say never

As John Dupuis said, “the Twittermonster has claimed another victim.”

I once said I’d never join Facebook. Now I pause during my day and think, “That thought would make an excellent Facebook status update.”

I said I didn’t see the point of Twitter. If Facebook is too much information, surely Twitter is way too much information.

However, I am starting to see the point of Twitter in some situations. For example, I’ve followed the conference Twitter feeds at SLA conferences and gotten lots of good information–like where to go for a quick lunch, and which speakers are really good.

So, when the chair-elect of SLA’s Social Science Division said she was going to post Twitter updates from the upcoming Leadership Summit, I decided to try creating an account for myself so I could help her put the Twitter feed up on the division’s web site.

Naturally, I announced this momentous occasion on Facebook, and promptly picked up a follower on Twitter. So, now I am twittering. And, I suppose, ascending the Twitter Life Cycle curve.

23 Things: Tagging

At the SLA conference in Seattle, I got talked into signing up for SLA’s 23 Things. While I don’t consider myself on the forefront of Web 2.0 (I’m convinced that once I found Facebook, it instantly became yesterday’s news), I’m pretty comfortable with a good number of the tools (my library has been blogging for over 2 years now and this humble blog has been around in some form since 2003) and I’m not afraid to try new ones out. I thought 23 Things might get me out of my comfort zone and get me to try some new things – plus the organizers were pretty persuasive.

I haven’t blogged about the first few things (blogs and wikis), mainly because I was so familiar with them. I have more blogs than I can handle already, and I started using a wiki for SLA Social Science Division program planning last year. (This year I’ve invited more people to use the wiki, and am happy to see most of them at least reading the wiki and a good number contributing to it.)

Now we are on to tagging, which I’m not quite as comfortable with. Oh, sure, I tag things, but I’m never quite sure about it. Is this the right tag? Will I ever find this again?

Mostly I am good at coming up with my own special tags. For example, I tag books in Library Thing with currentreading and use that to display them on my blog. I tag posts on del.icio.us with staffpop and plug that feed into my intranet site for my staff. But actual meaningful tags? I’m a little behind on that.

Next up: Folksonomies and Technorati, where the current top story is “Dick Busted on Sex Charges Outside Chicken Joint”. You can’t make this stuff up.