In February this year Bob McKee, chief executive of CILIP blogged a short article entitled All of a Twitter. The piece quickly took an authoritative tone, casting a bizarre paranoia over ‘informal’ librarians who network away from the closed environment of the CILIP site. A hip-hop beef quickly ensued as web consultant/librarian Phil Bradley posted CILIP: epic fail, declaring his disgust at CILIP’s stance, claiming they were placing a distance between themselves and potential members.
Bradley’s article became a triumph of debate, provoking a barrage of response from Twitter friendly Librarians equally disgusted at McKee’s outburst. Some of this response appeared to be born out of sheer frustration, as non CILIP members were unable to reply to McKee’s post through CILIP’s ‘sanctioned’ blog environment.
The outcome of this debate was responded to positively by CILIP, who last week invited Phil Bradley and fellow guru Brian Kelly to present on the use of Web 2.0 technologies to enhance communication within the LIS community. The event also became a platform for experiment, encouraging librarians to discuss the topic over Twitter. Official Tweeters were also assigned, posting up key topics as they were presented at the event.
I have to admit that I was not overtly impressed by this concept. Discussion over the topic began almost 24 hours before the event, using #cilip2 hashtag. Participants were encouraged to use Twitterfall to follow the event, which presents tweets on particular topic in real time. Going back over the transcript of the event quickly reveals how silly this became, as participants with very little to say were using the hashtag, polluting official entries as the list of entries grew longer. The job of following the discussion became intolerable, especially as many of us only had the time to read back in our own time, after working hours.
I believe the use of Twitter to support this event was perhaps naive; the statistics reveal that 150 librarians provided around 1200 tweets. But without naming names a handful of librarians were clearly spamming, an issue which other discussion technologies can already cope with. Overall though the event was undeniably successful in bringing a quantity of professionals together, but quality was compromised.
Whilst I feel Twitter was misused here as an open forum on the future of CILIP, the blog discussion surrounding CILIP 2.0 is superb. The transcript posted on the main CILIP blog is much more easier to follow, and the following articles provoke much more focussed debate:
EDIT: I have corrected a typo, mispelling Brian Kelly’s name. Sorry Brian!