Monday 21 May 2012

Thing 4: Current awareness - Twitter, RSS and Storify

Welcome to Thing 4! In this Thing we'll explore a few tools that will help you to keep up-to-date and aware of goings on in the library and information world, and make it easy to share news and stories with others. The three tools we have chosen to explore are Twitter, RSS feeds and Storify. However if there are any other tools you use for a similar purpose, feel free tell us all about it when you blog about this Thing!

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to publish short updates of up to 140 characters. Users follow other users to subscribe to each other's updates. All the updates from the users you follow will be aggregated in to one timeline that appears when you log in to the site.

Although a common belief is that Twitter is filled with celebrities tweeting about what they had for lunch, in reality few users actually use the service to send updates about the minutiae of their everyday activities, instead preferring to use it to network and share ideas or interesting things they have seen around the web. This is what makes Twitter such a valuable tool for those of us wanting to improve our current awareness.

If you already have an account, skip this paragraph! If you don't already use Twitter, follow the easy steps below to create your account and begin tweeting:
  1. Go to and follow the steps to create an account.
  2. Once you have created your account you will be taken to your Twitter homepage where you can update your profile to include a short biography, a link to your blog and a profile picture. We recommend that you leave the Twitter Privacy box unchecked because this means other CPD23 participants can read your tweets. You can always change this at any time.
  3. Now post your first update. Click in the status box on the left of the screen where it says "Compose new tweet..." Write a comment, maybe something about your participation in the 23 Things programme. You are restricted to 140 characters, and as you type you will see the number at the top right of the box decrease. Leave enough characters to add #cpd23 at the end. This is known as a hashtag and allows Twitter users to group tweets by subject. By adding #cpd23 to your tweet your comment will be picked up by other participants. Once you click "Update", this tweet will be added to your timeline, and anyone who follows you will be able to see your tweet.
  4. Search for @CPD23 (or click here) and click "follow". Now our tweets will appear in your timeline!
Being able to view all updates using a particular hashtag has made Twitter a valuable tool for following conferences. For example, if you wished you'd had the chance to go to CILIP's New Professionals Information Day, here are all the tweets from conference-goers: #CILIPnpd12. Another use for the hashtag is for holding real-time Twitter chats on a particular topic. Great examples of this are #libchat, which is held every Wednesday at 8-9.30pm EST, and #uklibchat, held every other Tuesday, 6.30-8.30 GMT.

Once you have been tweeting for a while and have built up a few followers, Twitter can be really handy for asking questions. To help me with this blog post I asked my followers who their top 3 Twitter accounts were for LIS news and information. (I also asked them to "retweet" this message - commonly abbreviated as "RT" - so that it reached more people.) Based on the results of this, here are a few lists of people you might like to follow for starters, then why not try finding a few yourself! If you find someone interesting, take a look at who they follow and go from there. But follow as many or as few people as you personally can manage - current awareness is good but information overload is bad!

RSS (commonly known as Really Simple Syndication) allows you to view new content from web sites, blog entries, etc in one place, without having to visit the individual sites. This obviously makes following library news and developments a lot easier, as all the news comes to you!

The first step you need to take when subscribing to RSS feeds is to sign up for a feed reader. There are many available but for the purposes of this programme we will use Google Reader as you have already created an account with Google. As an example of how to subscribe to a feed, let's get you subscribed to the CPD23 blog. In the right sidebar of this blog there is a "Subscribe to..." box. Click on the arrow next to "Posts", and click "Add to Google". This should take you to your Google Reader (you may need to sign in with your Google account) and you can then subscribe to this feed. From now on, whenever we post something new it will come straight to your Reader, eliminating the need to keep checking the site. You can subscribe to other blogs and news sites in a similar way, even if they don't have a subscribe button embedded in their site, most web browsers will have an RSS button - this may be up by the address bar, or in Firefox 4 this is in the bookmarks menu.

Here is a handy bundle of all the CPD23 blogs:
RSS feed of all CPD23 participants

And here are a few of my favourite blogs for keeping abreast of library news and trends (again, explore for yourself, follow your interests etc!) -
  • Librarian by Day - transliteracy, digital library services
  • Phil Bradley's weblog - "where librarians and the internet meet" - search engines, web 2.0 technologies
  • The Wikiman - library advocacy, marketing, social media, advice for new professionals
  • Infoism - IT in libraries, digital divide, library news and advocacy
  • Agnostic Maybe - ebooks, library news. Hosts an "open-thread Thursday" discussion each week
  • Hack Library School - a must for LIS students, "hack" your library school experience using the web as a collaborative space
  • Rarely Sited - special collections and outreach
  • Mashable - social media and technology news


Storify is a way of bringing together content from across the web, to create "social stories", which you can then share. It's a great way to combine different media in a nice, embeddable format. As an example, here's a simple one I made about CPD23:

When you sign up for Storify (, you will be prompted to sign in with Twitter or Facebook. If you don't have an account with these services, or don't want to link your accounts, don't worry, just click on the small link underneath where it says "I don't have a Twitter or Facebook account" and you will be able to create a username and password.

Once you have an account, it is very easy to create a story. The blue "Create story" button at the top right of the screen takes you to the Story Editor. You can search various social media and news sites for things to add to your story, just drag them across to the left hand panel to position them however you like. You can also add your own text. Storify also have a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser, to send content from anywhere on the web to your "Storypad", and then the next time you go to Storify they will be there waiting for you in the Story Editor. There are more instructions on this here. You can save your story and come back to it at any point, and when you are happy with it, just click "Publish" at the top and it will be made public.

Now to share your published story! Storify offers options for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and by email, or you can simply copy the link and paste it wherever you like. If you want to embed the story in your blog or website as I did above, click on the embed tag, copy the code in the box, and then paste this bit of code into your blog post by going to the HTML view (the button to change how you are viewing your draft blog post is at the top left in Blogger's edit screen, top right for Wordpress). For Blogger users, don't worry if your embedded story appears as a weird bit of code even after you switch back to Compose view, it will show up correctly when you preview or publish your post!

To give you some inspiration, here are some ways that library and information professionals have been making use of Storify:

What to do now!
To complete this Thing, blog about your experiences with these tools. Which did you find most useful and why? Have you come across any blogs or twitter accounts that you've found particularly useful for current awareness? Have other CPD23 particpants been sharing interesting content via Storify?

If you are super keen and want to explore this area further, here are a few more current awareness tools you might want to play with!

Images in this post by IconTexto on


  1. Love the way you used Storify for the Storify portion!

    1. Thanks Jeff! I'm very impressed by Storify.

  2. There are some excellent tips for new Tweeters being shared on the #cpd23 hashtag over on Twitter.


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