Slacktivists Unite: Does Your Facebook Profile Picture Matter?

So, many of my Facebook friends have taken up the call to raise awareness about domestic violence against children by replacing their profile picture with an image of their favorite cartoon character from childhood. This act is supposed to evoke the childhood memories lost by child victims of domestic violence. It is a noble cause and should be supported.

However, my twitter stream has shown that some recognize a problem with this type of social activism via the weak ties social network that is Facebook. It is one thing to agree with the message of a cause, and spend ten seconds changing your profile picture or status message. However, it is entirely another thing to feel incentivized to donate time or money, or even take bigger risks for the sake of a worthy cause. Here are some examples of tweets pointing to this:

@BookishJulia Julia Skinner
Not changing my FB picture. Raising awareness is only helpful if it transfers to meaningful action, rather than an excuse for inaction.
@pnkrcklibrarian Punk.Rock.Librarian. [Lisa Rabey]
Just posted on FB why I think the change your profile pic is dumb. How many guesses how many people will de-friend with that statement?
Both tweets got a lot of responses. Lisa Rabey elaborates in the following exchange with Ian Clark:
LR: @ijclark ANd I get irritated when people “support” a cause but don’t acutally do anything to SUPPORT a cause. Also: http://on.fb.me/e9bUVu
LR: @ijclark Because most, actually a lot, assume profile->cartoon pic swap “teehee let’s remember childhood” not “swap to stop child abuse!”
IC: @pnkrcklibrarian I’m right with you there….changing your photo isn’t on its own going to achieve anything. At least if they donate as well
I was discussing this topic with friends last night, and it put me in mind of a couple of articles that I’ve read recently: The first, Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted, by Malcolm Gladwell, compares strong ties social network triggered activism like that seen in the 1960s civil rights era with that of weak ties social network triggered activism on Facebook and Twitter; and the second, How to: Turn Slacktivists into Activists with Social Media, by Geoff Livingston, is about taking “slacktivism” and transforming it into activism.
The worry seems to be that people who engage in slacktivist tactics will believe they are doing enough just by changing their profile picture or status. And there is undoubtedly truth to that. Although not based on research, and only an observation, it is completely possible that the idea young people have of what activism is and can be, what it can achieve, has changed.
I think what is important to remember is that not everybody is an activist, and not everybody who is an activist is an activist for all causes. However, this does not mean that massive low level engagement, or “slacktivism” won’t spread the word and trigger a few people who are more engaged with an issue to a higher level of activism, or at least spark a conversation (this instance on Facebook with cartoon profile pictures certainly has triggered a conversation on Twitter, although it isn’t a conversation about child abuse or domestic violence). Still, might not this be worth it, if one person more is inspired to act?
So, what can you do? Visit one of the following websites, and learn about domestic violence against children. Contribute your time and energy to the cause. Or, if all you can manage is a tweet or status update, let others know where they can go to make a real difference.
Children’s Defense Fund: http://www.childrensdefense.org/
Child Welfare League of America: http://www.cwla.org/
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/

 

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Twitter At A Glance

Apologies for the delay in posting! This last semester of grad school is keeping me extra busy, and this last week has been a doozy. I’m back on track now, though, hoping to post once a week again.

Today on Twitter I found this lovely “Twitter At a Glance” as retweeted by @ShannonMMiller via @GwynethJones aka the Daring Librarian. Anyhow, it is a great “how to” twitter guide in comic form, so I’m sharing it here.

Twitter at a glance how to guide

Image courtesy of  The Daring Librarian on Flickr, posted under a Creative Commons License.

Fall 2010 at SJSU SLIS: Week 2

Much better than week 1. Much, much better. Sigh of relief.

I’ve turned in my first assignment, read the required readings, and feel settled into the fall semester. I’m way more organized and finally can get a grip. The major hiccup for me during week 2 was the discovery of a vampire novella, Dinner With a Vampire. Did I mention I’m Vegetarian?, available online at Wattpad, an eBook community. I only have Twitter to blame for alerting me to the story in 140 characters or less (and myself, of course, for following the link, retweeting it myself, and getting sucked in). I spent a day obsessively reading a story about a teenage girl who is kidnapped by hot teenage vampires. Seriously, this gives the traditional captivity narrative a new twist. Twisted, but fun. Seriously guilty pleasure. I had to cut myself off, though. I haven’t finished reading it, so I still don’t know how it ends. Does she get away? Does she get turned into a vampire? Is it all a dream? Who knows. Maybe I’ll read more for Labor Day. Gotta love three day weekends. Although, three day weekends have little meaning in the online classes environment. I mean, my assignment was due Sunday night. Weekend-interruptus syndrome. Oh well.

As for school, I’ve been thinking about my research methods course. I’ll have to write a research proposal this semester which I may link to my summer internship at GTU. I interned at the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library and did a lot of research on copyright issues for pre-1972 sound recordings. I’d like to find out how other organizations are handling this issue, and specifically if the complexity of intellectual property law for this particular class of resources does indeed hamper efforts at digitization and digital preservation. Of course, I don’t know what research if any exists on this topic, but I expect if this becomes my topic, I will soon find out. I also know from experience how daunting the intellectual property issues are.

I’ll be refining my research proposal idea over the coming week. I’m sure I’ll have more to add by then.

As for other projects, not much progress yet. My fall internship for Bancroft Library in Berkeley still hasn’t started. My ePortfolio (thesis project) is slow going, but at least it is going. And I plug away little by little at understanding and using RDA to catalog with MARC. All of these will be ramping up soon, and I will be very very busy.

Holy moly. This fall semester is going to be nuts. But oh, how I like me some nuts!

The Social Network: Trailer Parodies & The Digital Divide

Web 2.0 is so pervasive it has really hit the mainstream (I know, it is a huge understatement), with movies such as David Fincher’s The Social Network coming soon, and already getting the full Web 2.0 treatment with abundant trailer parodies on YouTube, my favorite being the Twitter Movie Trailer: Rated Awesome from Indy Mogul.*

An interesting question for me regarding the audience of the movie itself and of course that of the parodies by default, is if there is a digital divide built in, and what this might mean. Yesterday, I actually met a charming twenty-something gal, who is not on Facebook, and I was a bit shocked. Tattooed and fashionable, I felt sure she would be totally plugged in. Perhaps she is a neo-luddite. Or perhaps she just doesn’t own a computer. Who knows, but I seriously doubt this movie or the delightful parodies of the trailer will resonate with her. Either way, the divide between the haves and have nots is certainly apparent when thinking about the potential audience of The Social Network.

*Thanks to GeekSugar for showcasing the Twitter and YouTube parodies of The Social Network trailer on the GeekSugar blog.

I’m #ala10leftbehind

I’ve been checking the tweets at #ala2010 and #ala10 periodically, only to find I am jealous of attendees. I wish I were there with you all! Some other jealous librarian type started the hashtag #ala10leftbehind. So now I can commiserate with other ALA Conference non-attendees. Some tweets are really quite funny:

goodinthestacks He said, “You buy them?” No, I run them off every morning on my printing press. All 14 newspapers we get. #ala10leftbehind #ala10

antibrarian I think if I read one more tweet about ALA fun, I’m going to burn something. I’m jealous. #ala10leftbehind #ala10

So thanks to all the ALA 2010 Conference non-attendees for brightening my day, and bringing a sense of solidarity to those of us who are #ala10leftbehind!