Thursday, 28 July 2011

Freedom of Information Requests Valid via Twitter

The Information Commissioner’s Office has ruled that requests submitted via Twitter are valid FoI requests, so long as the requesters real name is available.  This could be in the Twitter ‘handle’ itself (eg in the same way that mine is @NicolaFranklin), or it would be equally valid if it were in the person’s Twitter profile page. 

The statement on the ICO website explains that an authority has a duty to check for tweets mentioning its corporate twitter account:  “...whether a request in a tweet that only refers to an authority in an @mention, for example @ICOnews, is really directed to and received by that authority. The ICO's view is that it is.  Twitter allows the authority to check for @mentions of itself, and so it has in effect received that request.”
The lesson is – if a public body has a Twitter account – check the ‘mentions’ tab frequently and ensure there is a mechanism in place to refer requests for information to your FoI team.

- Nicola Franklin

Monday, 25 July 2011

Are you deterring the best candidates?

When your firm is trying to fill a vacancy, you want to attract, interview and offer to the best possible candidate for the job.  However, one of your staff may be putting off the very people you want to hire. 

A new study by major recruitment firm Robert Walters, reported by HR Daily, shows that 45% of professionals they interviewed said that they had withdrawn from a recruitment process because they didn't like one of the people who interviewed them. 

It is vital that everyone involved with greeting your candidates, carrying out tours of the department, and doing the actual interviewing are all aware that the recruitment process is a two-way one - that the applicants are judging your organisation, the culture, the role and your staff just as much as you are judging them.

It can be heartbreaking to find the perfect person for the job, make them a good offer, only to have it turned down. 

To avoid this happening, make sure all the members of your team are ready to talk positively about the organisation, answer questions about why they work there and how they like their jobs, and promote the benefits (cultural, social and career development, as well as financial) of working there.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Is Google Plus going to rule the world?

Many blog posts and articles have already been written about Google+.  Some of these have focused on the ‘who will win, Google or Facebook’ angle, Phil Bradley argued the case for why Librarians need to get up to speed on it, while others have taken a broader viewpoint. 

One of these that I particularly liked was by Vincent Wong who uses an innovative visual presentation to argue that Google+ is in fact a tool to amalgamate everything that we do on the web into one cloud based platform – that includes tweeting, blogging, sharing, email, collaborating, documents, presentations, networking, etc, etc.
What are the implications if this is how use of Google+ develops?  How will Google generate revenue from having a large captive audience within this platform?   Should Twitter, Facebook, or even Microsoft be worried?
I don’t claim to have any answers to these questions, but I do agree with Phil that librarians everywhere, in public libraries as much as in law firms or in government, should make sure they keep a close eye on what’s happening.  There are already hundreds of librarians on there (Phil himself has almost 750 contacts in his ‘circles’ so far), so plenty of people to connect with, share with and collaborate with. 
As Mike Elgan, editor, blogger and columnist, wrote on Google+ earlier today: 

“Instead of saying, "I'm going to write a blog post now," or "I'm going to send an e-mail" or "I think I'll tweet something" you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you're going to say it to.

If you address it to "Public," it's a blog post.

If you address it to "Your Circles" it's a tweet.

If you address it to your "My Customers" Circle it's a business newsletter.

If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

I'd say this is pretty revolutionary.”

Monday, 18 July 2011

Exciting Announcement!

Hello everyone, I’m delighted to announce the launch of our Johannesburg office today, Monday 18th July 2011. 
Fabric has been working in the region for some time from both our UK and Dubai offices and demand grew to such an extent that we decided to have a presence on the ground.  The office will be led by an old colleague of mine, Jacqueline Rose, who returned to her home town of Johannesburg last year.  Jacqueline spent more than 10 years in creative recruitment in London and is in prime position to work with the growing agencies and brands in South Africa.
Our aim with the new office is simple.  We want to offer the candidates we represent a real choice of career, not just in one territory, but across the globe.  Careers are becoming far more international and we want to be in a position to offer true consultancy and choice.  In addition we want to offer our clients access to international as well as local talent and that can only happen by having a presence on the ground.
Like London and Dubai the Johannesburg office will offer recruitment consultancy in our core areas of PR, communications, marketing and digital.  We will be recruiting at all levels and in all the major cities of South Africa including Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban.

Our doors are open; please do feel free to get in touch:

Justin Kent - +44 (0) 20 7734 0441

Jacqueline Rose - +27 (11) 4472481

 - Justin   

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Event – SLA Europe Summer Networking Party

Last night saw the annual summer gathering of SLA Europe members, this year at the same venue the group usually uses for its Winter Warmer Quiz, the City Tavern.

We were lucky enough that all four of the Early Career Conference Award winners were with us; Chris Cooper, Ned Potter (@thewikiman), Sam Wiggins and Natalia Madjarevic.  I had an interesting conversation with Chris about the merits of using Twitter to keep up to date with the latest goings-on in the library & information field and to keep in touch with colleagues met at conferences and other events. 

I had come to the event straight from a planning meeting with Mark Field (@b00kmark) and Conrad Taylor about the De-Fragmentation project.  Several people were interested to hear about the latest developments and plans to engage the various information groups and associations to create some concrete outcomes, particularly to improve advocacy for the profession as a whole.
Sara Batts gave a short welcome speech and introduced the award winners to everyone, then it was time for the food!  It was a lovely spread, including chips and salad so you could be as wicked or healthy as you wanted... I have to admit to sneaking a few chips onto my plate!  The chocolate cake for afters was tempting as well...

- Nicola Franklin

Friday, 1 July 2011

LIKE26 Event – Information Architecture is the new Librarianship?

Yesterday evening we had the privilege to hear from Martin Belam, Lead User Experience and Information Architect at the Guardian.

As Martin started talking, I was struck by the similarity of what he was describing and the beginning of many of the interviews I’ve had with cataloguers – he was telling us about how he used to obsessively organise his record collection as a teenager.  Albums by band, within that by year, with singles from that album in front of the album, in order of release...

As he carried on, however, his career diverged sharply from that of most cataloguers I’ve met.  No library school here.  Martin went to work in his local record shop.  However his information organisation skills soon came to the fore again, as he started optimising their stock control database to fit better with the way people worked.
In his next role, at the BBC, Martin ‘did SEO (search engine optimisation) stuff before it was called that’.  He updated a massive spreadsheet with all the search terms people might/were using and the url’s of BBC web pages relating to them and sent them off to the search engines (Alta Vista, Lycos, AllTheWeb, remember those?).  Over time this list on a spreadsheet developed into a taxonomy.

Another way in which Martin’s career differed from that of many cataloguers that I’ve interviewed, is that much of his work was driven by his desire to make systems work better from the users’ perspective.  He created user profiles (one was called ‘Mandy’) to represent users knowledge, interests and skills, and did user testing to observe users trying to find things on the BBC websites.  He commented that seeing people use things that you see as really simple, and struggling with it, is a real eye-opener.
When Martin felt he’d got burned out from the pace at the BBC he left, moved to Crete (“as you do” he said) and did freelance work as an Information Architect.  You could get more work with that label, apparently, rather than ‘producer’ which was what the BBC called him.

Martin then worked for Sony in Austria (“it was interesting seeing how a Japanese firm worked in an Austrian setting”).  He said the major thing he learned there was that all the effort was being invested in producing great things for end users and customers – and none at all on internal systems.  
The Guardian then offered him a role he couldn’t turn down, and he now spends a lot of his time “imagining future web pages” and seeing if people like them.  On a more prosaic level he was also involved in rebuilding their CMS from scratch, starting with getting Software Architects and Editors together to agree a common language and standards.  He also does a lot of training and promotion for Editors, based around “Tags are Magic!”. 

All the functionality of the Guardian’s website is driven by tags.  They have 9,000 of them, and any two tags can be combined to create a new one.  Any articles tagged with a tag will automatically appear on a webpage, so a new page can be created without any manual content management  working taking place.  Anyone can create a new tag – but they have a Tag Manager to oversea this and make sure they are sensible ones!
The tags exist in a hierarchy of folders, and can have one-to-one, parent-child and one-many relationships – so its quite complex ‘under the hood’.

One type of tag that they don’t have, which he’s realised could be useful, is an ‘audience type’ set of tags.  Using this would mean they could collate and target related content towards a particular audience (eg children).
During conversations after Martin’s excellent talk, someone pointed out that the Guardian has a great mix of advanced IT systems, advanced Information Management/taxonomy, Information design/creation/publishing, all working well together, and  Martin is a great example of the ‘librarian’ of the future.  It’s both a long way from cataloguing – and at the same time, it seems to me it’s much the same.  The same skill set – organising information, classifying things seeing how users need to access information and making it available to them. 

In a reply to one of my tweets, Liz Jolly pointed me to this post as being very useful when considering the parallels between librarianship and information architecture - Liz is Director of Library and Information Services at a UK university.
It was very heartening to hear that information management skills are alive and well in such diverse organisations - the Guardian today at LIKE26, and Clifford Chance at BIALL Conference 2011.
- Nicola Franklin