MLA 2012 Keep Informed

As 2011 comes to a close, it makes sense to start highlighting 2012 events.  One major event in 2012 is the Annual Meeting in Seattle.  The NPC has been hard at work trying to make it a great meeting.  In the upcomming months there will be more and more updates about the meeting and you if you want to be in loop of what is going on then you will want to check out the Official MLA ’12 Blog and use #mlanet12 as the meeting’s hashtag on Twitter.

So go to and bookmark it or add it to your RSS feed reader because there will be some posts in the near future on our speakers, the Opening Reception (aka Opening Day), and the call for bloggers and much more.  Once we have selected our bloggers, things will really take off with posts about the meeting.

Do you have a question about logistics, programming, or anything else about the meeting?  Want to pick some of the NPC people’s brains?  Or do you just want to chat in general about the meeting?  Try posting on Twitter.  Use the hashtag #mlanet12 and type away, we will see it an respond.  Not only are the two NPC co-chairs on Twitter but so are many other NPC and LAC members.  Are you new to Twitter?  That is ok.  We plan on having another online MLA Twitter tutorial available for people.  It is still a little early and it isn’t quite ready to go live, but if you want to join in on the #mlanet12 discussion and just want a little refresher check out A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter

Keep in touch!


Facebook Is It Worth Our Time?

Multiple friends posted this article, “Studay Raises Doubts About Effectiveness of Facebook as Outreach Tool for Academic Libraries” ironically on their Facebook accounts. 

The study, in the current issue of D-Lib Magazine, by Michalis Gerolimos, examined 3,513 posts on the Facebook pages of 20 U.S. academic libraries.  He found that the vast majority of the Facebook posts (91%) did not generate any comments from fans and those posts that did, the comments were primarily from library personnel not faculty or students.

If you look at the Facebook page fan information outside of libraries you will see that the numbers might not be what librarians hope for. According to Sysomos only 23% of Facebook pages has more than 1,000 fans and the average page has 9.5 pieces of fan generated content (photos and video).   These numbers are regular Facebook pages which include celebrities, companies, public figures, and (yes) libraries and educational sites.  So the vast majority of Facebook pages out there have less than 1,000 fans.  That figure seems to fall in line with Gerolimos’ findings.  Only two of the twenty libraries he looked at had more than 1,000 fans. 

Yet most library Facebook pages have very few fan generate content.  Surprisingly most of the content on the walls (including “likes” and comments) were from library staff.  It appears that most libraries are well off the mark for user fan generated content and the content library staff post is either not engaging or irrelevant, such as Fondren Library’s page that posted a close up of a librarian walking to work.

This illustrates my point that I made on my friend’s Facebook page on this article, ” Too many librarians believe just slapping a FB page up will automatically lead to engagement. Successful businesses have entire marketing departments who are trained from birth to engage the customer. We have no such departments.”  Obviously, if we think a picture of a librarian walking is engaging the fans.  Even if we are good at engaging people, or we all of a sudden find some social media marketing wunderkind willing to work on engagement, there is a good chance that people still might not be interested.

While people may chat with each other at the library, its Facebook page is not an online water cooler where users trade ideas, discussions, or simply ask questions.  “Gerolimos found that users were not interested in sharing personal data via the library Facebook pages.” 

In his article Gerolimos cites two papers stating users are more interested in personal communication and interaction rather than educational endeavors.

Pempek et al. (2009) identified the same mentality regarding its use in academia. They found that communicating with friends was the most popular reason to use Facebook and finding help with schoolwork was among the least. In addition, a survey conducted by Valenzuela et al. (2009) recorded that 51.5% of its users do not read or post on groups as part of their daily activities, and 64.3% rarely visit the profiles of groups they have joined. Selwyn (2009) found that only 4% of a total of 68,169 students’ personal wall postings he analyzed were related to education.”

Only 4% of students wrote posts related to education.  Well that doesn’t bode well for the library Facebook pages.  What is even more distressing for all who have Facebook pages is “78% of people who “like” brands on Facebook like fewer than 10 brands.” (SEO Inc.)  So, competition is a bit rough to be among the 10 liked pages, but it is even more difficult when you learn that some social media pundits believe that more than 80% of fans do NOT return to the fan pages once they have clicked “like.”  YIKES!  Most people are getting their news and interacting from their own newsfeeds. 

This brings up a whole other can of worms.  Facebook does interesting things with their news feeds.  With news feeds, timing is everything.  People in general don’t like to scroll, so you need to know when your users are most likely to login to their Facebook accounts to see your news feed.  Additionally, Facebook treats scheduled posts differently than ones that are unscheduled.  Facebook wants things to be timely, it considers scheduled posts from sites like HootSuite to be less timely therefore less relevant and your post then gets squooshed together with other items in the news feed. 

The good news is that you don’t have post something every freaking day on Facebook to get good engagement.  According to Sysmos, the average wall post (by administrators) is every 15.7 days, and for pages with more than a million fans one wall post is created every 16.1 days. 

 “Unlike on Twitter, where popularity is correlated with how many times you Tweet, Facebook fan pages tend to be updated only once every 16 days.  And that’s really the big difference between Facebook fans and Twitter followers. On Twitter, you follow someone because you want to hear what they have to say. On Facebook, you fan them just to show your support of affinity.” (TechCrunch)

Librarians have been traditionally talking about the fact they have a Facebook page and how many fans they have, as if by mere fact that somebody slapped up a page they are automatically engaging their users. But really is Facebook really where we should be if we are looking to engage our users?  Given the small number of fans, the poor response rate, and our inability to post something interesting or relevant to our users, perhaps there other things we need to consider focusing on.  We need to be in the business of engaging our users, not building a site where people just fan us to show their support.

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research

Daniel Hooker posted some nice slides on Using Social Media to Advance Your Research that he presented to a group of PhDs and post-docs at the UBC Faculty of Medicine.  I gave a similar presentation to World Health Interest Group at Case Western Reserve University.  I spoke about using blogs, Twitter, wikis, etc. in scientific research. 

During my presentation some of the attendees got hung up on the tools and technologies as toys and the idea of communicating was lost.  Social media is just one method people can use to communicate, share ideas, protocols, methods, lab notes, etc. In the very broadest of terms, email is sort of social media.  You can email many people who can then pass that discussion along to others. Listservs are a perfect example of this.  But email has been around with us for such a long time that there is no real discussion about its communication potential.  Yet, email was once a new fangled communication toy. 

Read this abstract from Science 1982. 12;215(4534):843-52.

Computer networks are an integral part of the rapid expansion of computing. Their emergence depends both on evolving communication technologies, such as packet-switching and satellites, and on diverse experiments and innovations in the software tools that exploit communications. The tools provide computer users with facilities such as electronic mail, access to remote computers, and electronic bulletin boards. Scientists can both adapt and extend tools to meet the communication needs of their work, and several networks are developing to serve particular scientific communities.

Funny how with very minor editing that same paragraph could be used to describe blogs, wikis, Twitter, or other social media programs.  I am also fairly certain back in 1982 there were a few people out there who thought email was more a toy than a tool and more of a time waster than a time saver. 

As I mentioned so many people get hung up on the technology, they have a hard time seeing how it can help them advance their research as Daniel would say or enhance their research as I would say.  Tomato…tomahto.

The big thing to impress upon people is that they don’t have to try all of these things all at once.  That would be a little like jumping in the pool and trying to swim a 400 IM all at once with no experience and no warm up.  If you do that, the experience is gonna suck…trust me. You can’t jump into the pool of social media and swim all of the strokes at once, nor do you have to.  Take some lessons, try it out, figure out what works for you and your schedule. Daniel mentioned Social Media University, Global (SMUG) by produced by Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic director of social media, as a good place to learn. 

 Social media applications are meant to save you time in the long run, not take more time out of your day/week/month.  You don’t have to be the Michael Phelps of social media, using it every day, several times a day.  Recreational social media swimming is totally fine too, logging into your feeds once or twice a week for 30 minutes.  If you think you don’t have the time to devote 30 minutes twice a week to using social media to advance your research you’re lying to yourself.  Considering the average American watched more than 154 hours of TV per month (State of the Media. Nielsen 2010), four hours a month looking through your RSS feeds to stay up to date on research in your area isn’t a lot.

I think the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily finding the time it is understanding how it can be useful to you.  Unfortunately that is somewhat up to you.  I can suggest some blogs, wikis, and Twitter feeds to follow.

Blog examples:

  • Useful Chemistry  -Chronicles research involving the synthesis of novel anti-malarial compounds. Closely tied to Useful Chemistry wiki
  • Cold Spring Harbor Protocols –Discusses current events in biology with emphasis on lab techniques, protocols are highlighted & discussed in detail
  • HUGO Matters  –Discusses topics relevant to human genetics and genomics

Lab Notes blogs:

 Wiki examples:
  • UsefulChem wiki –Synthesis of novel anti-malarial compounds, including experiments. It is completely open.
  • OBF wiki –Open Bioinformatics Foundation focused on supporting open source programming in bioinformatics
  • OpenWetWare –Promotes sharing of information, know-how and wisdom among researchers & groups working in biology & biological engineering. It is partially open.
  • WikiPathways –Dedicated to the curation of biological pathways
  • Yeast Genome wiki –Everything yeast including protocols, methods, reagents, strains
Lab or Research Group wikis:
 Twitter feeds:

Lists of scientists and researchers on Twitter:

The easiest way to have a rich and informative Twitter feed is to follow the people the leaders in your field are following and branch off from there.  By the way, Twitter’s site is ok for learning, but it really stinks for following any sort of conversation AND you always have to refresh the page (annoying). I highly recommend using Hootsuite or TweetDeck to monitor your Twitter feeds.  The thing I like about TweetDeck is that a little message pops up in the corner of my computer screen with the tweet. I can read it quickly and decide whether I want to ignore it, comment, or click on their link. Using Twitter on TweetDeck this way is very similar to how I use email because my email pops messages to my main screen too.

Really you need to sit down and figure out what your information needs are and the leaders in your field to follow.  This might be hard, but I bet there might be somebody in your field who is already doing it, so ask them, build off of what they are doing and tweek it to fit your needs.

What Is Important in Social Media?

I will be giving a quick 20 minute presentation on social media next week.  I pretty much have the bulk of the presentation together it is just a matter of editing the slides and fine tuning.  However, I thought it might be interesting to see what librarians and medical professionals think about social media and what issues are important…or is social media even important to at all.

I do think social media is important, if not important it is definitely prevalent. According to Nielsen’s just released social media report, “nearly 4 in 5 active Internet users visit social networks and blogs.”  Social media isn’t just a teenager thing or something college kids do.  The biggest users of social media are 25-44 year olds (hmmm in medical libraries that would be your doctors, nurses, physical therapists…not your students).  While the 25-44 year olds are definitely using social media, the biggest growth is from Internet users over the age of 55 through the mobile Internet. 

Since it is apparent that social media is being used and it is here to stay for a while, what are the biggest issues you face personally and professionally?

Do you worry about a lack fo privacy?  As more and more companies are going on Facebook and Twitter what is your thought about following them?  Do you follow them? Why or why not?

What is your library or institution doing on Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare?  Yes if you want your library or institution to participate in social networking they have to have a presence, but simply occupying a space is not social.  How is your library or institution engaging its users?  How do you measure engagement?  Do the increase of bots on Twitter and inactive Facebook followers concern you? 

Is there something else that I am omitting about social media that is important and should be mentioned?  Comment and tell me about it.

The End of Social Media 1.0?

Brian Solis wrote an interesting post, “The End of Social Media 1.0,” describing a shift in the social media landscape to value added social media.  He says people are still embracing social networks but competition for their eyes and their loyalty is stiff because users are no longer willy nilly hitting the like button, re-tweeting and following like they once did.  They have become discerning social media consumers, interested only in companies that have value to them. 

While I kind of dislike the whole 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 way of labeling of things other than specific software updates, Brian brings up a  good point.  Even though he is speaking specifically about businesses and social media, the same should be said about libraries and social media.  Simply having a presence on Facebook or Twitter isn’t going to cut it.  So what if you have 800 fans…big deal.  How active are your fans on your page?  How active are you at engaging your fans?  Technically I am a fan of CVS Pharmacy but that was just so I could enter to win a contest.  I really don’t care about CVS, I just haven’t taken the time to “un-fan” them.  I don’t read their posts, I don’t interact with them on their wall, and quite frankly I completely forgot I was a fan until I was doing some Facebook house cleaning.  How many of your library fans are like that?  How many of your library Facebook fans are still students or employees? 

In light of the recent study “What Students Don’t Know,” few students even think of the library or the librarian in general, so you gotta do more than just have a Facebook presence to win their attention.  What are you doing on library’s Facebook page or Twitter to be of value to current and potential fans?  Brian says, “Businesses must first realize that there’s more to social media than just managing an active presence, driven by an active editorial calendar. Listening is key and within each conversation lies a clue to earn relevance and ultimately establish leadership.”  Now change the word businesses for the word libraries or library businesses. 

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a chicken and egg thing going on here.  You kind of have to first have fans to listen to them.  Normally I would say that librarians are pretty good listeners.  But if a tree falls in the woods does anyone hear it?  The “What Students Don’t Know” study clearly worries me and makes me wonder if we are good listeners but crummy overall communicators. 

If your library has a Facebook presence as a way to connect to users, simply having a bunch of fans does not show how good you are at communicating through social media.  What you do with those fans on Facebook, the conversations, interactions, and changes you make to your products or services  is a better indicator of your social media presence.  How many libraries have established a relationship with their fans? What has your library done differently as a result of Facebook communication?

I was listening to the radio the other day and the DJs were talking about who has more followers on Twitter.  At first they were comparing their numbers to each other, then they started comparing themselves to outside personalities.  You have 100,000 followers, big deal.  How many are actively following you and re-tweeting? How many still use their Twitter accounts and tweet at least once a month? Recently there was a big broohaha over Newt Gingrich’s Twitter followers.  People claimed that he had staffers buy the Twitter followers in order to boost his numbers.  Mashable conducted a Twitter analysis of Gingrich’s account along with several other politicians and discovered many of his followers (and followers of other politicians) were due to being on Twitter’s Suggested User List.  Many of the followers are either spambots or people who signed up but never did anything.  According to Mashable 14% of Gingrich’s followers have posted within the last month.  Various reports from 2009 say that most people quit Twitter after one month, leaving lots of inactive Twitter accounts. (Remember when everybody had to start a blog and all of the dead blogs littering the Internet?)  These accounts are still subscribed and “following” people, they just aren’t active.  Twitter is all about communication and reaching out to people, yet the number of followers you have cannot be used as an indicator of success. 

Social media is about communicating with our users. Having lots of fans and followers does not mean your library or company is successful at social networking.  Communication is a two way street.  If your wall is dead, your fans aren’t interested and they aren’t getting your message.  If your wall is dead, you are my CVS Pharmacy to your Facebook fans, something they “liked” but really don’t care about anymore. 

Indifference may not wreck a man’s life at any one turn, but it will destroy him with a kind of dry-rot in the long run.
-Bliss Carman

You can have lots of fans and followers but that is just having a social media presence.  While participation requires presence, presence does not require participation.  There are too many libraries and library vendors present on Facebook and Twitter and trumpeting their “success,” in social media.  There are very few that are participating and engaging their fans and followers which is the true mark of success.

Letter to the Editor or Respond With a Blog Post

Many people have lamented on how long it often takes to get an article, comment or letter published in a journal.  The time delay is most often seen when the author is writing about a new technology that was new a year ago or when somebody is responding to an article by writing a letter or brief comment.  The letter or brief comment shows up several months after the original article, creating what I feel is a bit of a disconnect. 

Travis Saunders wrote an interesting post about his experience writing a Letter to the Editor and blog post discussing the conclusions of an article in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutritional and Physical Activity. No surprise the Letter to the Editor took considerably longer to get published.  The blog post while quicker to post probably had the same reach as the Letter to the Editor.  While the Letter was not the quickest nor maybe the most effective method, it is still the most important for career. 

As Travis mentions, “Publications are the currency of research. These are what people (scholarship and grant committees, performance review committees, etc) focus on when determining your productivity, and having a few extra publications can make a huge difference for a young researcher.”  As a result there is no way a blog post will compare with a Letter to the Editor.  Travis mentions that a hybrid model using the best of both communication methods would be ideal, and points out that BMJ already does this sort of with has eLetters. 

Given that the methods of assessment and professional communication still have to catch up to the way we communicate professionally via social media outlets, one would think it is pointless to even bother.  Why write two “letters?” (The actual Letter to the Editor and the blog post)  Why not? With some simple edits, adding of URLs (if need be) somebody can kill two birds with one stone and quite possibly reach others they would never have otherwise reached with a traditional Letter to the Editor.   Compared to a traditional Letter to the Editor, a blog post has the ability to go viral much more easily thereby having a greater impact.  Given how easy and little time it takes a blog post

Doctor’s Going Digital

My husband fowarded me this interesting graphic.

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
The Doctor's Tech Toolbox  | Infographic |
Image Source: Spina Bifida


Some of my thoughts on the graphic:

63% of doctors are using mobile devices that aren’t connected to their practice! 79% prefer the iPad and 75% have purchased an Apple device. Another 38% plan to purchase an iPad in the coming year. Finally with 86% of physicians wanting to use their mobile devices to EMRs, hospital IT departments Needto get on the ball and deal with iPads and iPhones in their institutions. Clearly they make think it is a personal device, but the graphic clearly shows that doctors think it is more than a personal device, are using it in their medical practice. 

All of that information also means that librairans and library vendors need to make sure their electronic resources are accessible on the iPad.  That means no Flash. It also might mean other formatting issues like reduce the need to scroll. It is a lot easier to scroll with a mouse than to flick scroll with your fingers.  Even if publishers/vendors adhere to the no Flash rule, there are still ways to build interactivity into the material and have high resolution pictures, videos, sounds, etc.  I know a doctor who used his iPad to access a video on WebMD to show at the patient’s bedside what their surgical procedure would be.  Give electronic resources dimension, but make sure it can be accessible on the dominant platform, which appears to be the iPad (if this graphic is correct).

Interesting that despite the growth and popularity of the Android phone in the consumer market, it seems their tablet is much less popular because only 9% of physicians would want an Android model.  Like I said interesting the difference between the phone and tablet market.

Librarians interested in medical apps should take note of the four relatively inexpensive (if you don’t count the camera attachment) medical apps that doctors are using on their devices.

Finally, I find it very interesting that with all the press that Sermo and other closed social networking sites have gotten that “physicians prefer open forums over physician only online communities.”  So it looks like closed sites are not the answer.  Perhaps something like Google+ which allows people to share in an open forum but also selectively restrict things to specific people/circles might become more popular among medical professionals. 

One statistic I find suspect is the one stating  2/3 of the doctors are using social media for professional purposes.  What social media and how?  I find it hard to believe that 2/3 of the doctors are on FB (Sermo, LinkedIn, etc.) for professional purposes.  If it means that 2/3 of the doctors are using some form of social media for professional purposes such as reading blogs and wikis, then I totally can see that statistic. I would like to see how that question was worded because if it asked them what of the following things have you done professionally and it listed read a blog, read a wiki page, use FB professionally, tweet a conference, tweet professionally, etc. I can totally seeing that kind of question skewing things.  They may be using it professionally, i.e. reading a blog post, but they may not be participating for professional reasons i.e. tweeting a conference.

I hope you find the graphic as interesting as I do.  Thanks Mike for passing it along to me.

Adding Google+ Features to Your Blog

I knew it was only a matter of time before the widget makers would make a widget for blogs that would add Google+ features to blog software. 

I have not added the features myself.  I have been testing off and on various blog skins that provide me with different looks and functionality.  I have no doubt that I will add the G+ functionality in the future, but right now I am waiting a bit.  I am waiting for several reasons. I am still trying to find a specfic look for my blog and I am more focused on that then whether it already can support G+.  I figure most skins eventually will support G+ so if I find the one I like now, I will pounce on it regardless of its Google widget availability.  I am also waiting for there to be more G+ widgets and to see what people have done to improve things.  Google+ is still very new, so there are only a few widgets out there, I am going to wait to see what cool things come out after people have had time to create some things.

However, if you are happy with the way your blog looks and performs and you want to add a little G+ functionality to it, check out Mashable’s article “How to Integrate Google+ Into Your WordPress Site.”  They discuss adding your profile information (good if your blog is personal, because G+ is still only for personal reasons not companies, libraries, brands, etc.). They also discuss adding the +1 button and Google inspired themes. 

Regardless of whether you are going to add a G+ widget right away, it is interesting to see what people are doing already incorporate it in blogs.  Now if we can get Google to think outside of the Chrome box.

More on G+

I am on Google+ and I am not sure if I like it.  I am sporadically kicking the tires, testing it out. 

Here are some reasons I like it:

  • I like having everything Google together.  Iam not sure if I like how it brings up another window when I click the links to my email, calendar, docs, etc. on the Google bar, but I am not sure what work better.
  • I like the idea of Hangout, but I can only use it at home because it requires me to install a Google plugin and I don’t have a microphone or camera on my work computer.  I can see it being used for web conferencing and other professional things.  I tried Hangout one weekend but nobody in my Circles were hanging out so I really couldn’t test it.  I think I would Hangout more if I could do it on my phone.  I would also like to know if I could Hangout with people outside of my circle.  For example, I would like to attend topical Hangouts but I may not want to add those people to my circles.
  • Setting up your circles is much more intuitive and easier than setting up friend lists in Facebook.  It is really easy to do, you can click multiple people, drag and drop and easily create new circles.  The Facebook friends lists were always something sort of hidden. 
  • Posts, it automatically and easily asks you who (which circles) you want your wall posts to be seen by.  In Facebook you have to play around with the post defaults and friend lists and remember to hit the arrow to change things when you don’t want a wall post to be seen by your default group.

Some of the things I don’t like:

  • Not enough people.  Yeah all of my geek friends are on it, but nobody else.  One family member is on it but he is always playing with cutting edge stuff.  So in order to share things online with family and friends, I still have to go onto Facebook since the majority of my non-geek friends are not on G+. I don’t like going to different places to share information (one reason I am rarely on LinkedIn), so I don’t see myself using it until/unless more of my regular friends join.
  • +1 button is confusing, until you know it is just Google’s version of Like.  After that it is just as boring as the Like button.  I would have liked it if you could hit the +1 button and then comment on the item or person’s comment.
  • Blog integration? Since you are reading this you already know I write a blog.  A few sentences of the post and its link go up on my Krafty Librarian FB page (not my personal FB site) directing people (primarily librarians) to my latest blog post.  If I can’t integrate blog feeds into my G+ wall then it is pointless for me to use G+.  However, it is still too early to tell if this will be possible in the future. I am sure there are WordPress geeks working all types of widgets for G+.
  • Twitter integration? Every wall post (including blog posts) on my Krafty Librarian FB page is then sent out via Twitter. This increases the abilty to share information.  Again without this ability G+ is not worth it.  I am told you can integrate Twitter and G+ if you use Google’s Chrome browser. Yeah, I don’t use Chrome at all.  I really hope Google doesn’t limit innovation specifically to Chrome because that will kill G+.
  • RSS feeds. I still need to got to at least two sites to stay on top and share information.  I grab all of my feeds using Netvibes.  Netvibes allows me to follow ANYTHING that has an RSS feed.  That means I can follow Twitter feeds, blog posts, news feeds, flickr, search feeds (web and database), etc.  Basically Netvibes is my one stop shop for finding information.  It is my morning newspaper.  I can also share things on Twitter, FB, and email through Netvibes.  However, to get the whole picture I really have to jump back and forth between Netvibes and FB or Twitter.  If G+ could somehow incorporate RSS feeds so I don’t have to bounce between sites, that would be a huge help.  I know Google Reader is accessible from the top tool bar when I am logged in and I when I went into it, I tried to share a story.  It looked like it worked but nothing showed up on G+ so I have no idea if I shared that story and if so where.  Perhaps I something is wrong with my settings.

As I said, I am still playing around with G+ bit by bit.  In the mean time I thought I would share two other people’s opinions on G+.  John Halamka likes G+ better than Facebook, he finds FB’s interface to be cumbersome.  Daniel Hooker shares a funny cartoon about G+ and FB and also describes his surprise at re-sharing through G+ and how you might want to disable re-shares.

They are saying G+ is the Twitter or Facebook killer.  But right now it is all about people.  While G+ has grown quite quickly, the people still aren’t there yet.  If you don’t get a critical mass of people, then FB is going to remain the place to be.  In the mean time, I am continuing to play with G+ and will write more as I learn more.  If you have any ideas about it or if I am missing something or doing something wrong please comment or leave a post on G+ or FB.


Last week while I was on vacation Google+ seemed to have exploded on the social networking scene.  This also just happened to be the first almost entirely Internet free vacation I had in a looong time.  I was on a Caribbean cruise and the .65 cents/minute of Internet time on the ship, the international roaming and data fees from AT&T, and the overall glacial pace of the network caused me to turn off my iPhone and lock it in the room safe.  It was definitely relaxing to be off the grid, but coming back I was hit with the tsunami of information. Email, RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, etc. all were full to the brim with information.  One of those things was Google+.

Thankfully, Neil Mehta has been looking at Google+ in the area of Medical Education. 

His first post Google+ Early Impressions – Lots to Like – A Few Things to Tweak he kicks the tires on Google+ to give his first impressions on it.  Like Neil, I like the Hangout feature and the idea of tying all things Google together. 

He also has a nice post that explains the concept of Google Circles a little bit more.  In his post Google+ Circles Simplified Neil thinks we need 2 sets of circles, one to filter the posts and the other share information.  He also links to other helpful posts about Google+ circles.  Then he provides another post on A 2 circle Google+ Migration Strategy for Newbies that might help those thinking about their circles. 

Finally his post Educational Applications of Google+ Hangout discusses how to use that feature in medical education with posting questions on Twitter for people to discuss in a Hangout session, create hypothetical video cases to launch and watch as a group in Hangout, and it could be used to discuss topics in Hangout then record the session and upload to YouTube to share with more viewers. 

Within the next few days, once I shake the sand out of my brain, I will start playing with Google+ and hopefully come up with some insights on use in medical libraries.