I’m not a big fan of Twitter. There is too much pressure to post interesting, quote-worthy zingers that someone will not only like, but re-tweet.  It’s not enough to be famous and post about what you ate for dinner. If you have a million followers, your tweets better be entertaining, have insight and be share-worthy to the highest degree. It seems almost impossible for the average person, then, to be able to keep up with those standards.  Which is probably why many of us are “followers” and “re-tweeters” more than actual “tweeters”.


In cases like the Boston bombings, Twitter played a MAJOR part in getting information out to the public, and also allowing friends and family to know that a loved one was okay.  This type of usage is paramount. Amazing that we can learn about a world event in seconds, right from the source, and pass it on to others. This aspect of Twitter is incredible.

But more and more, we are seeing and even encouraged to Tweet during live events.  From an entertainment standpoint, tweeting during the finale of American Idol about your thoughts on each performer probably isn’t such a big deal. I find it appalling, however, that at a recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner, people were tweeting witty remarks during the event. There was even an article from Time Magazine posted the following day with the Best Tweets from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

All right, I understand the irony here….that I’m complaining about communication during a correspondents’ event, but this is just the latest example. Why are so many people attending events that should mean something to them, and texting on their phones? Can’t they put their phones away for a couple of hours to actually BE in the moment? Are these events so unimportant to them that they sit there composing the best one-liners they can think of, all the while ignoring what is happening right in front of them? If that’s the case, they’re the wrong people to be involved.

We are becoming too disconnected in our lives. We sit at our computers, with our phones in hand, texting, emailing, checking Facebook status, surfing……and we’re completely ignoring our actual flesh-and-blood lives. Will this stop?  I doubt it.  I’m sure it’s only going to get worse as social media becomes less about being social and more about media. Maybe people should be posting more thoughts about this on Twitter, to reach the people that really need it.

Do you tweet during important events in your life?



What do YOU want?

The big question these days seems to be, how do you get your information? I’m not talking about news or research, I’m talking about local community information. It might be different in a large city, but in a smaller community with a population of 9500 (according to the signs located outside of Carleton Place), getting information out to people is a difficult matter.

Years ago, the only real way people knew what was going on in this community was through the newspaper, posters and word of mouth.  People found out about events through their church bulletins, through school letters home and by reading the flyers posted at the front door of the local grocery store. Funny thing was, it didn’t seem so bad. We didn’t worry that something important was happening without us knowing about it.  If we left the house, we’d be out of contact with a phone for a while, but it wasn’t stressful. And if we wanted to share some photos of our fantastic summer vacation with our friends and family, we’d have to wait until we saw them in person and whip out that white envelope stuffed with 24 mediocre pictures they could ooh and ahh over. It was just that way.

Today, with social media, getting information out to the public is easy…almost too much so.  We’re expected to keep our phones on and charged, in case we need to text someone or take a photo right that second. If we don’t check Facebook a thousand times a day, we feel like we’ve missed out on something. And we MUST check our favourite websites constantly, to keep up with the world of politics (or entertainment, or sports, or knitting).

As a public library, we’re finding that we’re part of this big machine, also. While we have a newsletter, and we put posters up around the library for various events, and advertise in the newspaper, there are just people out there who do not get their information this way anymore.  They rely on Facebook and Twitter and blogs to find out what’s going on, and that includes in their own communities. It’s still amazing to us when people we’ve never seen in the library before, come in and tell us they heard about a program we’re running, on Facebook or Twitter. It gives us a sense of satisfaction that yes, we’re reaching people. We really are!

How do YOU prefer to get your local community information and do you think we could be doing more to inform people about library programs?  Do you feel like you need more access to library resources online? Or are you happy with the way things are?  We’d love to know how people are really using our blog, online catalog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. It’s all about YOU, after all!

Read Local

The 49th Shelf, a great website devoted to all books Canadian, has started a wonderful project called “Read Local : The 100-Mile Book Diet”.  It’s a little different than eating only foods within a 100-mile radius (you don’t have to read books written about Lanark County, for example), but it is aiming to document Canadian books on a fun map.

So, how does it work? You sign up for the website and then mark the position on their virtual map of any book that uses a Canadian location in its pages. For example, read something recently that took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia? Drop by the map and mark the position with a tag.  If it is already there, you’ll add your book to the others. ( So far, there are 4 books noted within the Halifax limits.)  It allows you to name the book so that duplications don’t take place, and even lets you make comments about certain books, tag the books with metatags for different search options and even post your reads on Facebook and Twitter.

This is an interesting project and it’ll be fun to see how it evolves.  Take a few minutes to drop by your favourite Canadian destinations to see if any books have been written about them!

Have you been #seenreading?

Julie Wilson is an author that didn’t start out to be an author.  After a variety of jobs that just didn’t suit her creative cravings, she began a career in publishing. Early on, she had an idea that she could start a little blog, one that would document people she saw reading in Toronto.  That was it. Simple.  She’d just see someone reading, then go back and blog a quick physical description as well as the book title and approximate page number.  Then, she’d create a piece of “microfiction” based on her observations about the person and the book they were reading.  And so, Seen Reading was born.

Fast forward a while, and she’s just come out with a print version as well as a simultaneous eBook release called, “Seen Reading”, of course.  The book is a collection of the many pieces she wrote and an all round fascinating look at people and what they read.  Although the original blog has gone (due to copyright issues), she still posts regularly on Twitter.  The fun part is that she encourages people around the world to use the hashtag #seenreading to tweet their own book sightings. So, the next time you see someone on the bus, or in a cafe reading, tweet a short description, a locale and what they’re reading.  You’ll be surprised at how fun this is to do!

You can follow Wilson on Twitter or drop by her website to see what’s happening with her book or to read more of the fun posts. In our library, we often talk about seeing people reading and had no idea there was a great place to post about it.  We’ll certainly contribute soon!

Have a platform, but don’t use it!

Recently, I read an article by Quill & Quire editor Stuart Woods, about a problem during the recent Canada Reads event and it got me thinking about how social media is both wonderful and terrible at the same time.

This year, the Canada Reads competition featured only non-fiction books. When her book was eliminated from the contest, author Marina Nemat went right online to defend her book, demanding an apology from panelist Anne-France Goldwater, who had characterized Nemat’s book PRISONER OF TEHRAN as untruthful and un-Canadian. It’s an author’s right to defend their work, however, Nemat’s comments on Facebook were quite demonstrative and started a wave of people weighing in. Whether or not Goldwater’s comments were uncalled for, Nemat dove into the quagmire before thinking. And she is by no means the first (or last) writer to do so.

Authors receive many reviews for their books, often good and bad, but the recent use of social media is making for instant, and sometimes harsh, reactions. Non-fiction authors are  required to have what is known as a “platform” for their work,  before their books are even published. (Non-fiction is typically harder to sell, unless the author is a celebrity or the topic is controversial, so having a ready-made audience before being published would hopefully sell more books.) A platform can consist of a blog or website, a Facebook page or Twitter feed, and often, all of the above.  What makes this both good and bad is that the general public now has instant access to authors, and not only can they say whatever they like to the author,  the author can respond.  This is where things are getting tricky.

In the past, if an author received a negative review for their book, there was very little recourse to responding in public (unless they published a letter to the editor in a magazine or newspaper, etc.) It took time.  But, like any negative interaction, this allowed the author to carefully form an opinion, craft exactly what they wanted to say, and more importantly–sleep on it!!  So many things seem less harsh in the morning. And even if, in the light of day, the sentiment still hurt, there was time to think about the response.  Remember, once something is out there in print (and this is even more important when talking about the internet), it is there forever.  You can’t take it back.  So, a once-careful response now becomes a few tossed off careless thoughts in the world of instant social media that can get someone into trouble.

This is true for “regular” people as well.

While interaction on Facebook and Twitter will hardly pass as conversation, it does count as dialog.  This can be healthy or destructive. And in a world where authors want to sell their books, having the ability to interact so quickly in real time might be quite damaging to their mission. Being able to “talk” with an author about their book is a wonderful, wonderful thing, and it certainly makes the world a smaller place. But I wonder if we’re all just a little too close now?

What do you think?  Are some authors going too far when responding to harsh critiques of their work online? Should they have a platform, but not use it?

A Facebook Book?

It seems like just about every living being on Earth uses Facebook.  It’s one of the most immediate pieces of social networking available. So it comes as no surprise that in this new world of digital publishing (eBooks etc.), someone has decided to “publish” a book on Facebook.

Author Alex Epstein has written a collection of 88 short stories, which he says will be published in Hebrew traditionally in a few months, but in the meantime, he’s published the collection on Facebook.  It is called For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings and he calls it a Facebook Book. Epstein’s friends on Facebook are able to flip through the photo album (each story is collected there as an image), and read the stories from cover to cover.  He was surprised at the immediacy of it, saying hundreds of people read it within minutes of ‘publication’. Certainly gets the book out there even faster than uploading an eBook to Amazon or Google.

The interesting thing about this idea is that not only can people read the book right away, they can comment on individual parts or just “like” it as a whole. It lets Epstein know immediately how well it is being received (although I would assume many readers would be his “friends” already.)  You can take a look at the idea right here, and while it isn’t in English, it’ll give you a good idea what’s possible. Good idea or bad, it’s innovative, but almost seems like it was staring us all in the face the whole time.

If you’d like to read an interview with Alex Epstein, click here. It seems that our world is becoming smaller and smaller every day.