July 23, 2009

TMI Twitter

As I spent approximately three hours just now getting caught up on Twitter and all my RSS feeds (three different aggregator accounts for varying purposes), I was starting to think about how too much information was making my mind go blank, as ironic as that is. Especially in regards to blogging, I didn't have the time or the ideas to come up with something new. I came across Meredith Farkas's newest post where she discusses how Twitter and other microblogging platforms disrupt lengthier, more thoughtful posts. I especially can relate to a comment by Lynda Kellam referring to newbie librarians being less inspired to blog when it feels like more established professionals are covering more ground, assuming they would cover it better than someone new to the field.

First, being so brand new, and just speaking for myself, I am casting my information-consumption tools very wide because I don't know yet the specific path(s) my career will take. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the majority of the areas I'm interested in (outreach, instruction, reference, technology, if you were wondering), but also reading posts and news from other areas within librarianship just in case. I want to be open to a variety of options as I continue my job search, as well as be as knowledgeable as I can, but it's overwhelming! That coupled with trying to keep up on topics of interest outside of librarianship fills up an incredible amount of time, making it less likely I will blog.

Next, after reading SO much about SO many topics through RSS and Twitter (and sometimes Facebook), where would one even start with a thoughtful blog entry? Again, as was stated, it then seems like more well-known pros already have it covered. Although these mediums can make you more clever by learning to be succinct and casting a wider net for information, maybe they are also dumbing us down. I find I save about 5-10 new bookmarks on Del.icio.us everyday, star 10-15 useful posts in my reader every time I check it, and re-tweet maybe 5 items throughout a day. I'm noticing that I'm not really thinking about the information in a reflective way, but moreso thinking of it as a commodity I need to catalog and save for when I might "really" need it. I'm not adding insight, I'm just regurgitating these materials either for myself or for others.

To add to this, today I found through Guy Kawasaki (via Twitter, of course) this article on too much information from Open Forum.
Good ideas can have drawbacks. When information is freely shared, good ideas can stunt innovation by distracting others from pursuing even better ideas, according to Indiana University cognitive scientist Robert Goldstone, who asks and answers the question "How do you structure your community or organization so you get the best solution out of the group?"
Maybe this applies!

I certainly think Twitter is valuable and as librarians, we should be more adept in dealing with information overload; in fact, technically, Twitter could help with info overload by serving as a news filter by being selective in who to follow. At the same time, I think in eagerness to share information and to feel as though one is "keeping up" professionally, less time is being used for reflection and further innovation. Hopefully a greater balance can be met and newbies (myself included) should feel less intimidated in adding to the discussion.